The Irish Football Association last night revealed they did not have any say in a decision which will see Northern Ireland play their first ever home game on a Sunday.
Yesterday’s draw in Nice for Euro 2016, which will be hosted by France, handed Northern Ireland a favourable group in which they face Greece, Romania, Hungary, Finland and the Faroe Islands.
But when the fixtures were announced later in the day it emerged that Northern Ireland, who play their home matches at Windsor Park, home of Linfield, will host Finland on Sunday, March 29, 2015.
The date for the first ever Sunday home game was queried last night by TUV leader Jim Allister.
But IFA president Jim Shaw told the News Letter that they had no say on the Finland date.
European football’s governing body UEFA is now negotiating marketing for all 54 nations involved in order to maximise Sky coverage for the competition. And Mr Shaw said: “You can’t choose dates.
“The algorithms determines the dates for the games.
“In the old system all teams came together and chose what dates they would play but this is the first competition where that is no longer the case.”
Asked if some fans would be put off from attending a Sunday game, he said: “We can’t do anything about that. It is a matter of personal choice.
“If we are going to be part of European competitions we have to be part of the regulations.”
Asked if there might be any chance of an appeal, he said: “I doubt if UEFA will consider that. All the dates would have to be changed as they all depend on one another.”
Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs agreed. “Some fans may choose not to go to a Sunday game and that is their individual right,” he said.
TUV leader Mr Allister said: “I would be interested to know whether the IFA had any role in choosing this date.
“There will be some fans who will feel excluded because in good conscience they will feel unable to attend on a Sunday. Therefore, support for the team will suffer.”
A spokesman for Linfield Football Club last night declined to offer any comment.