The Irish Football Association has granted the Northern Ireland Football League, which runs Northern Ireland’s top flight, and two other league bodies an extension to the 2019-2020 football season.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the association’s Football Committee last night.
It comes after the association wrote to league secretaries and divisional associations last month explaining that May 31 represented the end of the specified season and any league wishing to complete their season beyond that date would have to seek an extension from the committee.
Irish FA President David Martin revealed the committee had applications from NIFL, the County Antrim FA and Ballymena Saturday Morning League for extensions to the season.
An extension until and up to 31 July was granted with leagues now able to finish their season by this date ‘if they so desire.’
NIFL, which runs the Danske Bank Premiership, the Bluefin Sport Championship and the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League, has set a June 30 deadline to decide whether its leagues should be completed or cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
It is understood NIFL’s preference is to finish the campaign in compliance with government guidance surrounding sporting events in the current lockdown.
The Irish FA President said those running the respective leagues would have to take note of government and medical requirements when deciding on whether to return to action or not.
“Health and safety of the players, managers, staff, referees and all involved in our games is the most important factor,” he added.
The decision by the Irish FA Football Committee also delays the opening of the registration period for professional contracts for next season. Registrations cannot open until the Irish FA declares an end to the 2019-20 season.