THE Northern Ireland Futsal League title will be decided on court after appeals from Omagh Futsal Club and several others forced the IFA into an about turn.
Initially, the governing body decided the league would be declared as it stood upon its postponement with the title decided on an average points basis, which would have left champions Sparta top of the table by 0.01 of a point from leaders, Omagh.
The Tyrone club were swift to point out that the IFA’s own league rules state that if the league is finished early then the team at the top should be crowned champions and with several other sides also appealing the decision a video conference call last Wednesday involving representatives of the top four clubs – Omagh, Sparta, Rosario and Belfast United – the IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson and IFA president, Dave Martin, resulted in an agreement that a top
four play-off would take place to decide this season’s champion.
Initially, the event was to have been played before August 18th to meet the UEFA deadline to select next season’s Champions League representative. However, they have since received an extension and the semi-finals, when Omagh will play Rosario (1pm kick-off) tomorrow (Sunday) in Shankill Leisure Centre, with the final at the same venue on Friday, August 21 at 7.30pm.
The first semi was to have seen United and Sparta lock horns, but the former have since withdrawn from the play-offs, which they felt were an unfair about turn by the IFA.
The decision to finish the season on court, rather than in one, has been met positively by Omagh club chairman, Martin Cassidy, who believes it’s the only correct way to select a champion.
“We’re happy enough because all along we’ve said we wanted to finish it on the court,” he stressed.
“We know if they had selected us as champions there would have been appeals and there’s no glory winning off the court. We’re sportsmen, we want to prove it on the court and lift that cup at the end of it, otherwise there’s nothing really to celebrate.”
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