Stuart King hopes current season can be concluded

There will be a lot of interest in today’s SPFL vote on whether the Championship, League One and League Two seasons should be ended.

Friday, 10th April 2020, 12:31 pm
Banbridge Town boss Stuart King

For the resolution to pass, nine Premiership clubs, eight Championship, and 15 in Leagues One and Two combined need to vote in favour with the result expected to be announced early next week.

Should the clubs vote to accept the proposals it would see Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers promoted from their respective divisions, with Partick Thistle and Stranraer relegated.

A number of leagues will be monitoring the outcome of the vote as football remains in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week top-flight leagues were cautioned by Uefa that declaring campaigns early could mean countries would not be able to take up places in European competitions, but it does not affect lower leagues.

The three top leagues in Northern Ireland are currently suspended with no date currently on the table for a return to action.

The Northern Ireland Football League though reaffirmed their desire to complete the current Premiership, Championship and Premier Intermediate seasons.

“Following further guidance received from the European Leagues we remain committed at this stage to completing the current NI Football League season at Premiership, Championship and Premier Intermediate League level,” they said in a statement this week.

Banbridge Town boss Stuart King wants to see this season played to a completion if possible, although he admits there are going to be a few hurdles to overcome.

“I would hate to be in NIFL’s position having to make really difficult decisions regarding the leagues in the coming weeks,” he said.

“Whenever things settle down and restrictions are lifted it would be my thinking to just play the games.

“I was speaking to a senior player and we were suggesting the possibility of using the remaining games as pre-season friendlies for the following season.

“In our league we usually play two or three games a week at the end of the season, so it wouldn’t be much different if we have to play a few games in a week when things are up-and-running again.

“There could be a couple of issues though if the league was cancelled or teams played weakened sides as some clubs have spent a lot of money to try and get promoted.

“My big concern for the following season is that as we only have 11 clubs in our league, and if it is cancelled no-one will come up to our league next season and we need a more competitive league.

“As we are a part-time league most lads book holidays for May/June/July as this is the only time they get to go away or a break with their families but these will all have to be cancelled now

“I personally have had to cancel two holidays in May and June.

“There are so many questions that need answered but it’s just a waiting game at the moment until we see how things go.”

Like all sports clubs, Banbridge Town rely on matchdays and social events for their income.

So the ‘lockdown’ has really impacted on them as a club.

“It has been really tough, we rely on match day income for our cub to survive,” said King.

“Our bar is our main source of income and obviously this is closed.

“It costs our club £80,000 a year to survive and this has hit in the middle of our season.

“Bookings for the club have been cancelled plus groups that use our hall etc have stopped now obviously too.”

The club plays a big role in the local community and has been doing its bit to support their fans and older generation at this time.

“The community have been our biggest asset,” said King.

“They have supported us and now its our turn to try and help in any way we can.

“We have a lot of older supporters so players, staff and committee have been touching base with them daily.

“If anyone needs help or needs things brought to them our committee, staff and the first-team squad are willing to help.”

Like all of us King has been trying to adjust to things following the ‘lockdown’, which he admits has not been easy when you have been involved in football for so long.

“I have never spent as much time in the house,” he said.

“I have a ‘mancave’ so I have started playing darts. I practice for a few hours everyday, but I don’t seem to be getting any better.

“But I am starting to get into the same shape as a few of the darts players!

“I actually cant wait to get stuck back into it as soon as possible.

“I’ve been sharing loads of coaching topics and ideas with other coaches and trying to help as many as I can get their coursework done.

“The players have also been working hard on their own training, I speak to most of them daily, and they know they can contact me any time if they need me.”

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