Fermanagh and Western Chairman Neil Jardine is hopeful that next season’s leagues will be able to kick off in mid August as usual.

Like all sport, the Fermanagh and Western season came to a stop in March due to Covid-19 but with lockdown restrictions now beginning to ease, Jardine is planning to start the season as normal.

“I think that if you look at what the GAA, in particular, are doing and how they are moving forward then you would have to say that would bode for us and getting a start on August 15 as would be normal.

“Obviously, we have to wait for the NI Executive to give the go-ahead for contact sport but overall things would appear to be moving at a good pace and if we are able to start on August 15 we will start on that date, we won’t be looking to delay that.

“I also think all the clubs would broadly welcome that as we haven’t kicked a ball since March 7,” he said.

However, the Fermanagh and Western are not yet able to draw up fixtures for next season because they must wait on the outcome of an upcoming appeal by Enniskillen Town on how the league ended.

Clubs made a decision to end the season on an average points per game basis with promotion and titles being awarded but with no relegation however Town have appealed on the grounds that the league have contravened their own rules and regulations in coming to this outcome.

That appeal is yet to be heard by the Irish FA which is a source of frustration for Jardine.

“Because of the outstanding appeal we don’t know what the make up of our divisions and league will be so we can’t do the fixtures.

“Also, our AGM, according to rule, should be held next Tuesday but we can’t do that until the appeal is heard and we get a decision on it.

“It is five weeks since we got confirmation that an appeal had been submitted and it is frustrating that it hasn’t been heard as we aren’t able to move on with whatever decision is made.

“Our main priority at the moment is getting the appeal out of the way so we know what way we are for the start of next season and we can get all the administration done in order to have our AGM and then get moving to get fixtures done,” he added.

In terms of registration of players for next season, Jardine says that on the whole it remains straight forward.

“Traditionally the season ends on May 31 and then all players would become free agents on June 1. That has changed this year, clubs will be able to re-register players from July 1 now and it is a simple process on the Comet system.”

He does though acknowledge that there may be a grey area for clubs and players who are still in the Junior Cup. Enniskillen Rangers and NFC Kesh are currently in the last four of the competition and Jardine states that the IFA would be keen to complete the competition if they can.

“The Junior Committee are very keen to finish the competition although there is a grey area over player registrations with those clubs.

“However, I think that there has been accommodations made to say that if it can be played then it should be played.

“It might just be a matter of some form of dispensation in registration rules to allow that to happen. There is only three matches in the competition to play and the Committee want to get it finished and have winners recorded and be able to start the next campaign with somebody having won a trophy,” he commented.