Little appetite for Irish League behind closed doors says Portadown boss Matthew Tipton

Matthew Tipton
Tipton's Portadown hold a six point lead at the top of the Championship

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton has warned there will be little appetite for Irish League football if fans are not allowed inside the grounds.

The Irish FA is to request an extension for the 2019-20 season, which has been suspended since mid-March.

"Everybody knows that while we haven't been given a set date in Northern Ireland, we aren't going to be playing any contact sport before the end of August or early September, and that's us being very optimistic," Tipton told Sportsound Extra Time.

"I don't think there would be very much will for Irish League clubs to play behind closed doors purely because we wouldn't be able to finance it in terms of players' wages and referees."

Tipton's Portadown hold a six point lead at the top of the Championship, however concerns are mounting that the season will not have time to finish before the scheduled start of the 2020-21 campaign in August.

The German Bundesliga was the first major league to return to action with no fans present last weekend, however Tipton says arrangements made in professional leagues offer little insight into problems facing Irish League clubs.

"Our players are part-time, they work and have other commitments," said the former Warrenpoint Town boss.

"How could I ask a player to put himself at risk playing a game of football yet he's not allowed to do his normal day to day job?

"We're that desperate to get a game of football played people are kind of thinking 'right, we'll just get a game played and it'll all be ok',

"We have to realise we're in the biggest crisis certainly of my lifetime."

Coleraine's Gareth McConaghie closes in on Linfield striker Shayne Lavery
Coleraine and Linfield were vying for the Premiership title when the season was halted in March

Tipton also revealed that he had heard nothing from the footballing authorities with regards to a plan moving forward, adding that the rapidly changing situation makes it difficult for such plans to be formulated.

"I haven't had a phone call, email or message from any of the governing bodies," he said.

"I'm not having a go about that but I have to be honest. I take my guidance from what I see in the daily news briefings like everybody else in the country.

"The landscape is changing daily, we don't know what's going to happen down the line so there's no point planning for that.

"I feel sorry for NIFL and the IFA because I know they're working hard at it, but certainly if they came out and gave us a call today, that (information) could change tomorrow."

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