NIFL CEO Gerard Lawlor: It's time to have adult conversations about change to Irish League calendar
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Lawlor outlined his vision for the future of Irish League football at Windsor Park on Wednesday with one of the main talking points focusing on implementing a change to the professional playing calendar in the coming years.
The potential schedule adjustment would see teams in the NIFL pyramid competing throughout the summer months – something which Lawlor feels would bring significant financial benefits.
"I can tell you five years ago I was never in favour of a change of season,” he said. “I'm a traditionalist and we all want to play at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, but to evolve and develop we need to come outside of our comfort zone.
"All I'm asking for is people to soul search. I'm asking for adult conversations.
"The majority of clubs we believe are saying 'we want something new' or 'we want to move'. We want to consult, listen to their needs and try to deliver it for them.
"I believe the benefits outweigh the negatives with more people coming through the turnstiles, bigger sponsorship opportunities and bigger TV deals when there is no other football on.
"The football market is saturated in the United Kingdom from August to May.
"If we can play for three months when those competitors aren't playing, I think there's exploration to be done and we would be foolish not to do it.
"When we do explore it, I'm now convinced there will be benefits that come from it and we will be in a better place.”
Lawlor also feels a calendar switch would give Northern Irish clubs a greater chance of competing in European football.
"If we want to grow to be a properly recognised European league then we need to be more competitive,” he added. "We can't have our clubs out of Europe three weeks after the European campaign starts because that's no use to anyone - not just the clubs competing but the solidarity and money coming from UEFA, everyone is losing out.”