Sunday 23 October 2016

Solution to season eyed up by Liam

Buckley sees way to sort out pile-up

St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Liam Buckley believes that the League of Ireland needs to extend the length of the season, and also ditch the mid-season break, to avoid the kind of fixture pile-up which the league is now facing.

Dundalk's run to the group stages of the Europa League has posed a real problem for the club, which has at least 15 more games to play in 2016, including tomorrow's FAI Cup meeting with Crumlin United.

There's been upheaval already, with the postponement of next Friday's Dundalk-Cork City game due to international call-ups. Dundalk will now play Bohemians in a back match on Friday, Bohs involved in that fixture instead of their scheduled game at home to Wexford Youths, though that leaves Wexford with no fixture.

Finn Harps are also put out as their proposed game next Tuesday at home to Cork City is off, and by next week Cork will have three games to make up on some of their rivals. This fixture panic has led to calls for the FAI to take a fresh look at the calendar which has one of the longest off-seasons in Europe, as well as the two-week break in June.

"They have to extend the season as this problem will always arise, the spotlight is on it even more now due to Dundalk," says St Patrick's Athletic boss Buckley, still disappointed with his side's tame display in Friday's 1-0 league defeat to Bohemians.

"It's ridiculous to think that Dundalk have to play all the games they now have to play in that time frame.

"We need to extend the season by four weeks, it's up to the managers to work their budgets around that. But we have to shorten the off-season, and I feel we don't need the mid-season break, to me that's disruptive.

"Extending the season would get rid of all those Monday night games, where the gates are always down. It's too important for the clubs competing in Europe to have to squeeze in so many games in a short calendar, clubs like Dundalk should not be punished for success in Europe."

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