Club Response to IFA Appeal’s Board Decision
Institute FC acknowledges, but respectfully disagrees with, the IFA’s decision in relation to our appeal against the NIFL’s decision to impose the automatic relegation rule when the season was curtailed as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. As we have stated before, we believe that the agreed principles of ensuring sporting integrity and the financial viability of all clubs have been severely compromised and as a result we are now faced with a number of challenges regarding our future.
The financial consequences for our Senior Club are severe, with a substantial reduction in relation to our Senior Squad budget, and the loss of Premiership status means that we will not be able to access UEFA Youth Development funding for the coming season. Clearly, this has the direct potential to have a detrimental impact on all the hard work that has been done to develop our youth provision over the last number of years and the development of those talented young local players on whom our clubs future depends. Overall, we estimate a 70% reduction in club income for the 2020/21 season. These are the ultimate consequences of avoidable injustice.
There are many at this club, and in this city, who are not surprised by the decision to implement the automatic relegation rule. Indeed, there is a general belief that the support provided by both the NI Executive and the football authorities belies the enthusiasm and talent that exists in the parts of our province which are furthest from Belfast. This belief is compounded by the view that there are some influential decision makers who see little value in what the so called ‘smaller or regional clubs’ can bring to the NIFL. The implications of such a mindset are that the hopes and aspirations of the clubs young players and football communities in those areas are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to important football decisions or funding considerations. More than ever, we need to depend on our local politicians, others with influence, and our own community to support our clubs development.
Three years ago, almost to the day, we suffered the threat of extinction as a result of the flooding which destroyed the stadium that our supporters and our community had worked so hard to build. However, we did what we do, we mourned the loss of our stadium and we got on with the job of ensuring our survival by winning the Championship and gaining promotion to the Premiership for the third time in our history. Today we have been dealt another severe blow, and whilst the floods of 2017 were a natural disaster, this time our struggles are man made. They are not a consequence of a pandemic but of a lack of solidarity, political will, and strong leadership.
We now need to take some time to reflect on the Appeal’s Board judgement and to consider the options open to us. Our strategic development plan and key objectives for ensuring our short, medium and long term future remain intact and we have a proven track record of resilience and resolve. We need to stay true to our clubs values of honesty and integrity and maintaining the community focus that make us who we are. We must do all that we can to protect what we have, but perhaps we should be more sceptical of the motives and methods employed by those who do not have our interests, or indeed those of other clubs, at heart.
Ardens Sed Virens (Burning yet not Consumed)