DERGVIEW boss Ivan Sproule has given his players the full Christmas week off despite a fresh drive towards the Championship kicking-off on January 2.
It seems that the Irish Football Association (IFA) has had a change of heart and has written to the Northern Ireland Executive and Sport NI requesting the Irish Cup and Championship league is given ‘elite’ status.
Up to now and despite much lobbying, the Championship has been refused elite status that has been granted to allow Premiership clubs to continue playing competitive games despite restrictions.
Coming days after the Sadler’s Peaky Blinders Irish Cup draw eyebrows have been raised that the IFA has done a complete U-turn but whatever the reasons Sproule has taken the decision to give his players some
time out for their mental wellbeing as much as anything else.
“We are getting the vibe that the IFA and NIFL are driving for giving us elite status now. Where the U-turn is coming from I’m not too sure,” he said.
“But I shut my players down after training last Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. I had a lot of disappointed players last Thursday when the news broke of further restrictions.
“That could have meant another six weeks but now it’s coming out that the Championship might be made elite.
“I took the decision to cancel training this week because I don’t want to bring my players in until I’m certain we have elite status. I believe my players are in good shape physically but mentally this is all taking its toll.
“It’s taking it’s toll on me, it’s taking it’s toll on the players and last week they got a kick in the teeth with the North West Cup Final being cancelled. Until the IFA start clearing things up – I know it’s not easy – but you can’t leave things in limbo. It’s either on or off, because there is too much commitment travel wise for my players.”