30/05/2003

D-day for local football as Taskforce deadline arrives

The future of Northern Ireland football lies in the balance today as the deadline approaches for a response to the recent Northern Ireland Football Task Force plan.

Around £8 million has been promised to local football by the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure if the two main associations streamline into a smaller, more representative board.

At present local football is controlled by a 55-member ruling council. However, if the Taskforce plans are taken on board, this will be streamlined to a new 17-strong board.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) is to hold a special meeting of its AGM today to discuss the matter, where they must persuade sections of intermediate, junior and senior clubs to accept the new proposals - which would see officials of another association, the Irish League, lose many of their powers of influence.

This has led to disagreements between the IFA and Irish League officials who feel the IFA are more interested in a takeover rather than a merger.

Northern Ireland Football Task Force chairman Billy Hamilton warned earlier this week that failure to reach agreement at the AGM would see local soccer losing the £8m government funding.

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