Soccer

NIFL's Sunday football proposal defeated at IFA'S AGM

Cliftonville's League Cup final win over Coleraine two seasons ago was played on a Sunday and drew record crowds
Cliftonville's League Cup final win over Coleraine two seasons ago was played on a Sunday and drew record crowds Cliftonville's League Cup final win over Coleraine two seasons ago was played on a Sunday and drew record crowds

THE Northern Ireland Football League’s proposal to make Sunday a regular match day experience during the season was roundly defeated at the IFA’s AGM last night.

Currently, both teams have to agree to play a game on Sunday with NIFL chiefs wanting to change that to maximise supporters’ weekend viewing of local football.

NIFL’S proposal mustered just 27 votes for and 104 against. Last season, the Irish Premiership staged six games on Sunday, with the competing clubs giving consent. During those Sunday games, there was an average supporter increase of 18 per cent.

In an interview with The Irish News last summer, NIFL chief Gerard Lawlor said they were keen to make the entire weekend wall-to-wall football rather than just playing games on a Saturday afternoon.

“Year on year the league has to grow, it has to be better, we can’t rest on our laurels from last year,” Lawlor said in July 2022.

“We have to make the league more attractive, better and more exciting and more accessible to a wider audience and that’s what we’re trying to do through a number of different platforms.

“If all the games are on a Saturday you’ll go to one game. If there are matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday you might go to two out of three games across the weekend.

“So many people work on Saturdays now and we’re competing with a lot of other attractions, so we have to give people football whenever they want it. The large proportion of people still want football at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, but not everybody does, so we have to cater for that other audience too.”

The last couple of League Cup deciders have worked well on Sundays and saw record attendances.