NIFL Championship: Dundela boss Nixon left 'astounded' by season's demise

Colin Nixon's Dundela were scheduled to face his old club Glentoran in the Irish Cup last month
Former Ards boss Colin Nixon was appointed Dundela manager last summer

Dundela manager Colin Nixon has described the decision by NIFL Championship clubs to cancel this season as "astounding".

On Monday, the majority of Championship clubs voted to declare this season null and void with not a ball having been kicked because of Covid-19.

"I'm hugely disappointed for my players," Nixon told BBC Sport NI.

The Dundela boss also ruled out his club playing in the Irish Cup following the Championship's cancellation.

"The players have been training from July and have followed all protocols laid down by the government," added Nixon.

However, the Northern Ireland Executive's decision not to grant the Championship the elite status category afforded to the NIFL Premiership means Dundela and the other second-tier clubs have not played any games at all this season.

'Situation never needed to be as severe as this'

"I am very conscious there's a pandemic going on and I totally agree with the sentiment that safety is paramount and no lives need to be lost over football," added former Ards manager Nixon.

"But this situation never needed to be as severe as this.

"The Championship clubs should have been granted elite status with the Premiership clubs way back in October.

"We are one of the only leagues in the whole world that doesn't have the second division of their respective league playing. It's absolutely nonsensical."

But while "totally unable to get my head around" the situation his club finds itself in, Nixon has now bowed to the inevitable.

"Back in the day you just focused on getting the team ready…tactics and getting them up to peak fitness and being prepared and watching teams that you are playing against.

"Now it has entered into a whole thing where players' mental well-being is being affected.

Nixon (left) and Elliott Morris celebrate after Glentoran's Irish Cup Final win over Cliftonville in 2013
Nixon said the Irish Cup tie against his old club Glentoran would have generated crucial revenue for Dundela

"The amount of players that have been on the phone to me who really don't know what to do with themselves. They want to get football going.

"From the point of view of their well-being, it's been unbelievable.

"There has been no direction as far as I can see from the governing bodies and we have really been tossed to the wayside and forgotten about."

The Irish Cup draw in December pitted Dundela against Nixon's old club Glentoran but he now says there is no way that game can take place.

"We got a glamour tie and a great tie for myself against Glentoran away which under any normal circumstances would be enough for a small club like us to live on the gate receipts and maybe fund the club for a few months.

"It's hugely disappointing but to grant a club elite status to play in one match would be just farcical. What am I supposed to do with training at the minute? We're completely not training."

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