SION Swifts manager Tony McGinley said he and his players had been left “between a rock and a hard place” by the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) over their return to action.
Swifts reluctantly resumed their Premiership campaign last evening (Wednesday) by hosting Crusaders at Melvin after much discussion with NIFL.
Sion hadn’t kicked a ball since their last league game on September 23 due to restrictions in the Derry and Strabane District Council area and those in neighbouring Donegal where many of their players are based.
Following initial discussions with NIFL regarding a possible return to action and the fact that the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership had been granted ‘elite’ status by the Irish Football Association, Sion claim they were under the impression that the league governing body would explore the possibility of securing permission for their Donegal-based players to travel across the border for training and games.
However during further discussions no further away than last Friday NIFL said that the onus for securing such permission was down to the clubs. That revelation came like a bolt from the blue for both Sion Swifts Ladies and their north west neighbours Derry City Women just five days before the resumption of the season.
Given that Sion and the Candystripes hadn’t played or trained as a group in over five weeks, both clubs emailed NIFL requesting that they be allowed two weeks training before returning to competitive action.
That email read, “Considering our league is now classed as ‘elite’, it is not an outrageous expectation to have a number of weeks to prepare.
“Both Sion Swifts and Derry City have been restricted from training since both clubs ceased all activities on Thursday 27th September due to localised restrictions imposed on the North West.
“With the men’s NIFL Championship due to return to training on the 14th November we are fully aware that NIFL recognise Championship clubs who are not ‘elite’ status require two weeks contact training before returning to play.
“Surely NIFL recognise the unique situation Derry City and Sion Swifts faced giving the localised restrictions placed upon the North West in late September.
“This coupled with the reality of a large number of players and staff residing in Donegal, without a letter to support travel has led to both clubs being inactive to this day.
“We respectively request that NIFL gives serious consideration to allowing both clubs a minimum of two weeks from Monday 2nd November to prepare for our return to play.”
Posted: 1:36 pm November 5, 2020