Darren Mullen left frustrated as season is cancelled

Newry City AFC boss Darren Mullen has vented his frustration after the 2020/21 Championship and Premier Intermediate League seasons were officially cancelled yesterday.

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 6:02 am

The NI football League announced the decision had been “regrettably” made to cancel the campaigns after club representatives across both leagues voted for the move on Monday night.

Newry were one of three Championship clubs to vote for an 11-game season but the majority decision was to cancel both leagues.

A deflated Mullen said the decision not to grant the Championship and PIL ‘elite status’ like their Premiership counterparts led to the end of the season without a ball being kicked.

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Newry City AFC boss Darren Mullen

“I’m frustrated not only on my own behalf but also for the players because throughout all this I’ve been telling them that we’ll get back at some point,” said the Newry boss.

“That was always the fight we wanted to take to NIFL and the IFA to get us back playing again.

“We believe that we have a right to be playing football. We are in a senior league as noted by the IFA’s pyramid.

“But it’s just been left too late now. If we had been given ‘elite’ status at the time then we would have had enough time to finish the season in the right manner.

“I’ve no qualms in saying that we’ve been an afterthought throughout this whole process. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

“We haven’t been represented in the right manner.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t have been dealt with differently at the start.

“It shouldn’t have gotten to the stage where managers are coming out with a statement, and differences of opinions between clubs and even within clubs. It should be a unified approach. In my opinion the powers that be should have been representing us better than they have done.

“We were representing the players. I could see how much they wanted to be playing. I get the whole health concern, I’m not banging the drum to play football at any cost.

“But when you have a Premiership that’s playing away, and it’s being managed, then why couldn’t we have done something similar?”

Newry had been drawn away to Larne in the Irish Cup, but Mullen says that tie won’t happen now.

He said: “If there’s no league there will be no Irish Cup for us.

“It’s difficult enough playing Larne in normal conditions, but they are playing and training as normal and this would be our first game. It’s the same for all the clubs outside the Premiership.

"I don't know how they are going to manage the competition."

Mullen also revealed his 13-year spell at Newry may come to an end once his current deal expires at the end of this season.

He is going to take some time to decide his future.

"I've been at the club 13 years, eight years as first team manager," he said.

"I'm coming to the end of a three-year deal now, but I'm not making any rash decision.

"I'll speak to the chairman and players and see what happens.

"It's not a decision based just on this. I've finished my Pro Licence and at some point in time I always wanted to challenge myself elsewhere, managing or coaching, whatever it may be.

"I have to wait and see if that time is now or some time in the future.

"I've plenty of time to mull it over now!"

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