Irish League confirms phase two of Covid-19 testing

Crusaders team doctor David McCracken tests Jordan Forsythe. Picture Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press..
Andy Watters

THE Northern Ireland Football League has confirmed that the Covid-19 testing programme for Premiership clubs and officials has been extended for another four weeks, starting from Monday (February 15).

The weekly-testing programme had been funded jointly by NIFL and the Irish FA but Linfield and Coleraine have both made a "generous contribution" to the cost of phase two - clubs receive 160 test kits for four weeks' of testing, with the total cost for all 12 clubs coming in at just over £15,000.

It began for all Premiership clubs for an initial four-week period before the league returned from a two-week coronavirus-enforced break in January and the second phase will last for another four weeks with a possibility of a third phase if it is required.

NI Football League Chairman Gerard Lawlor said: “It has been good for the league, it gives us some professionalism, it gives reassurance to players and staff and takes the shackles off a little bit.

“It has worked for us, there's no doubt about that and we will continue to monitor the situation. We have brought in phase two and we need to see where the country is in a month's time, we need to see what the Covid figures are and where government is. If a phase three is needed, then I have no doubt we will look at a phase three.”

All participating players, coaches and match officials will be tested on a weekly basis in phase two and Lawlor added: ‘'The health and wellbeing of players, coaches and officials remains paramount to the NI Football League and the continuation of testing alongside strict compliance to Covid-19 protocols gives everyone involved a level of reassurance.

“On behalf of the NI Football League, I would like to express sincere gratitude to Linfield and Coleraine for supporting this next phase of testing following their successful exploits in European competitions.”

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