£30k refereeing bill for local football league
Clubs in a local football league coughed up more than £30,000 in refereeing costs over the course of the past season, it’s been revealed.
The shock revelation came from Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League secretary Billy McIlroy as the league held its annual dinner in the Michelin Athletic Club on Friday night.
Mr McIlroy said that across the league’s three junior divisions, clubs paid out around £22,500, while in the intermediate division alone – where a referee’s match fee is £50 – costs for officials were close to £10,000.
He said the situation was exacerbated by the cost of travel expenses on top of match fees, with officials based in the north west of the Province often allocated to take charge of matches in the Ballymena or greater Belfast areas, due to the lack of referees qualified to take charge at intermediate level from this area.
“If they can progress them from Belfast and the north west, they can progress them locally as well,” added Billy.
“It is worth a referee’s while to referee now, from a financial point of view.
“Yes, teams need referees, but referees need teams as well – you can’t ask people to pay through the nose all the time,” added Billy,” who thanked the league’s panel of officials and urged teams within the league to continue to respect match officials.
Billy also pointed out the success of the league’s insurance policy which covered teams in the event of players sustaining serious injuries which kept them off work.
He said such instances last season were “well into the teens”, adding: “It is money well spent because it safeguards people.”
Billy thanked Michelin Athletic Club who have hosted league meetings and functions free of charge for 35 years, the last 28 of them as sponsors of the league, while he also called on young people involved in clubs not to shy away from taking on duties within their club and the league.
“When you look at the founder members of this league, only Moyola Park remain in existence today.
“The big word now is volunteers, to help keep clubs and the league running. We’re looking for someone to replace myself, Ian (Shiels, chairman) and Robert (Fenton, vice-chairman).
“From senior football to youngsters kicking a ball in the park, football would die without volunteers..
“Players think that something magically happens that footballs are bought and kits are washed and hung up – it happens because someone does it.
“If there is someone who wants to come forward and help, don’t stand back because you will be very welcome,” added Billy, who also praised the efforts of several local Councils in providing facilities for football.
“Young people today do not realise how fortunate they are with facilities. Gone are the days of changing behind a hedge and storing your clothes in a hole in the ditch before playing a game.”
The league secretary reflected on another successful season on the pitch, with Limavady-based Newtowne the dominant force in the intermediate division, winning three trophies.
Warm tributes were also paid to the secretary’s diligence by David King, chairman of the neighbouring Saturday Morning League, who said: “Billy has been a fantastic servant to the league – a lot of people don’t realise how lucky you are to have him.”
Other guests included Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Audrey Wales, who, as well as thanking league officials, praised the input of players, coaches and managers.
“This thriving league stems from your outstanding hard work and dedication,” she added.
The league awards were presented as follows:
Intermediate League (sponsored by Michelin Athletic Club): winners – Newtowne; runners-up – Brantwood.
Junior Division One (sponsored by Michelin Athletic Club): winners – Ballyclare Comrades Reserves; runners-up – Tobermore United Reserves.
Junior Division Two (sponsored by Michelin Athletic Club): winners – York Road Loughside ‘A’; runners-up – Woodlands FC.
Junior Division Three (sponsored by Michelin Athletic Club): winners – Rathcoole FC; runners-up – Cookstown RBL.
Canada Trophy (sponsored by Presentation Trophies) – Glebe Rangers Reserves.
Linda Welshman Memorial Cup – Ballyclare Comrades Reserves.
McReynolds Cup (sponsored by Ballymena United FC) – Newtowne.
Crawford Cup – Newtowne.
O’Gorman Cup – Ballynure Old Boys.
Fair Play Team of Year: Intermediate – Newtone; Junior Division One – Ballyclare Comrades Reserves; Division Two – Wakehurst Strollers; Division Three – Cookstown RBL.
Manager of Year: Intermediate – Neil Mullan (Newtowne); Junior Division One – Jonny Watson (Ballyclare Comrades Reserves); Junior Division Two – Ed Heaney (York Road Loughside); Junior Division Three – Phil Gray (Cookstown RBL).
Leading Goalscorer: Intermediate – Ronnie Burns (Ballynure Old Boys); Junior Division One – Daniel Ellis (Ballyclare Comrades Reserves); Junior Division Two – Mark Finn (York Road Loughside); Junior Division Three – Gerald Southam (FC Whiteabbey).
Sportsperson of Year: Intermediate – David Hanna (Carniny Amateurs); Junior Division One – Valerie Cross (Desertmartin Swifts); Junior Division Two – Michael Davidson (York Road Loughside); Junior Division Three – Jordan Armstrong (York Road Loughside).
Young Player of Year: Intermediate – Steven Andrews (Brantwood); Junior Division One – Daragh Mallon (Mallusk Athletic); Junior Division Two – Josh Martin (1st Mossley YM); Junior Division Three – Dee Stewart (AFC Carrick).
Player of Year: Intermediate – Michael O’Doherty (Newtowne); Junior Division One – Darren Lindsay (Ballyclare Comrades Reserves); Junior Division Two – Ricky Thompson (Carnmoney FC); Junior Division Three – Ally Young (Cookstown RBL).