Soccer over

Soccer over

13 May 2020

THE local soccer season has come to an end with unfinished business left on the books.

Amateur League and Newcastle League officials have brought their seasons to a juddering halt without promotion and relegation issues being decided.

Both leagues made their decisions after consulting with their clubs and although no one goes up and no one goes down, there are clear winners and losers.

In the Amateur League the biggest losers are Ballynahinch Olympic, who were bidding to become champions of the Premier Division for the first time.

They had an eight-point lead at the top of the table when football was suspended two months ago, although nearest rivals Crumlin Star and East Belfast had plenty of games in hand.

Also on the losers’ list are Dromara Village, who were lying third in Division 1A and vying for promotion to the top flight.

The biggest winners are Drumaness Mills, who have been spared relegation from the Premier Division, despite being rock bottom without a point to their name.

Also saved are Downpatrick FC, who were eight points adrift at the bottom of Division 1A, and Ballynahinch United, who were at the foot of Division 1A and odds-on to make the .

The only section to have an outcome is in Division 1C where top of the table Rosemount have been promoted. They have completed their fixtures and cannot be overtaken.

In the Newcastle League, the biggest losers are Ardglass, who will have nothing to show for their efforts, despite being 13 points clear at the top of the Premier Division.

Celtic Bhoys Academy have already been declared the winners of Division 1 because they cannot be caught. Division 2, which was headed by Celtic Bhoys Academy before the lockdown, will remain unfinished, as will the Purdy Cup.

The Bobby Dalzell Cup final, between Killough and Ballynahinch Olympic Town, and the Harry Clarke Cup final, featuring Celtic Bhoys and Ballynagross, will be played at the start of next season.

Newcastle League secretary Alan Craig said the announcement would bring a “level of certainty and closure” to the clubs.

In a letter sent out to clubs he said: “The committee believed it was the correct procedure to ask the clubs for their input.

“We understand these are challenging times and, in any case, our primary concern would always have been the welfare of the clubs, players, match officials, volunteers and any supporters during this unprecedented period.”

Mr Craig was unable to give the clubs a start date for the new season.

“The committee have been in constant dialogue and agreed that setting a date for the new season to begin is just not possible under the current Government guidelines being issued. Once we are in a position to do so, we will issue a further statement on a possible start date for season 2020/21,” he said.

Mr Craig did confirm that clubs would be given a 50% reduction in their subion fees next season as a gesture of good will.

“We are aware that it will be a difficult period for everyone and the committee are in agreement that this is positive step,” he added.

The Amateur League has announced that it will not be asking clubs to pay their annual subscription fees next season.