IFA lifts 60-year ban on Sunday football

SUNDAY football will become a reality in Northern Ireland after a 60-year ban on it was lifted at an Irish Football Association EGM last night in Belfast.

Amendments to the rule were voted in by an overwhelming majority – 91 for, 14 against, with 10 of the 115 voting members in attendance abstaining.

From June 1, 2008 Irish League clubs, and male and female teams of all levels, will be allowed to compete on a Sunday with the permission of the Irish FA.

IFA chief executive Howard Wells welcomed the move.

"It has always been an issue about freedom of choice regarding the Sunday football rule. I think the vote reflects the increasing respect the people of Northern Ireland have for one another. No-one will be told they have to play football on a Sunday and equally no-one will be told they cannot play on a Sunday. It is a decision to be welcomed; an historic occasion for football in Northern Ireland," he said.

While the IFA will decide if games go ahead after they have been agreed in principal between two clubs, president Raymond Kennedy rejected a suggestion that this would give the association a veto and would therefore allow it to continue preventing games from being staged on a Sunday.

"I think the amendments to the Sunday football ruling will benefit women's football and youth football in particular," he said.

"In terms of the Irish League, I see no reason why anyone would want to stop two teams playing on a Sunday. I am confident that after June 1 next year there will be teams wishing to compete on a Sunday and that there will be Irish League clubs involved." See Sport