Ballinamallard United captain Richard Clarke has asked NIFL and the IFA for clarity on their situation.

Championship clubs have yet to kick a ball in anger in the league with four potential start dates having already passed while last week they were refused elite status which means that they won’t now begin until February at the earliest.

Clarke says he understands that there is a bigger picture at play and that people’s health must come first but he wants to see a clear plan in place for clubs, something he feels has been missing.

“At the moment we are just waiting on things to happen and there is no clarity for anybody.

“That is the thing that needs to be ironed out, there has to be a plan in place where you can say that a,b,c is going to happen, depending on certain things.”

The former Glentoran and Crusaders midfielder believes that Championship clubs should have been granted elite status at the same time as Premiership clubs and questions whether without it would they be better to scrap the season and come back again for a fresh start next season.

“At the end of the day, I’m passionate about football and fighting the corner for football but I’m also well aware that people’s health is more important and if it is a case where we have to make a decision about cutting the season because of people’s health then so be it but let’s make the decision or let’s get elite status.

“We could have started when the Premiership started if we had elite status granted but I think it is the case now where the NIFL Committee, the IFA and the clubs have to make a decision on what is happening because players, management and coaching staff can’t continue to take these hits.

“With the commitment we are putting in it is just becoming tiresome and it is getting to the stage you think is it best that we come back in August and play a proper season,” he stated.

Clarke acknowledges that it has been a frustrating time for Championship clubs who have been training for months on and off now and he feels that the request to have elite status was left too long.

“You look back to where we started off, everybody was back in July with the thought process of starting again in October and obviously that deadline passed and then another deadline passed and then not getting elite status before Christmas was probably the biggest kick in the teeth for everybody because there was a bit of a rumour that we were going to get it.

“But the timing of it, things have escalated since and there was no way that the NI Executive were going to grant us that status.

“I think though that it is a case of reacting rather than being proactive, it should have been granted long ago as we have been doing the exact same things in terms of protocols as Premiership clubs and it doesn’t sit well with the players, managers and clubs but you just have to get on with it.

“There has been a lot of work that has gone on behind the scenes training wise for everybody and there is a lot of frustration, there is not doubt about it,” he added.

A 22-game Championship season had been proposed to start on January 2 before current restrictions saw that latest start date pulled.

A curtailment plan was also in place if the 22-game campaign could not be completed which would see the league called after each side had played each other once (11-games). Clarke though is against this idea.

“I’ve heard that 11-game curtailment plan bandied about - I’m in football a long time and I just don’t understand how football people could think 11 games is adequate to win a league or more importantly, be relegated, it is just not fair in my opinion.

“I feel quite strongly about it, they might turnaround and say it is fair for everybody but I just don’t get the logic on how you can decide a champion or who is relegated over 11 games,” he said.

And ultimately, all Clarke and his team mates want is to be able to get back playing the game they love.

“You miss that buzz on a Friday night knowing that you have your game on a Saturday and you have prepared all week for it.

“The Championship clubs have probably never been as fit as they have done two or three pre-seasons and that’s the thing for players, you do the pre-season because there is an end goal and there is a purpose for it but at the minute we are training for training sake because we keep getting these knock-backs,” he commented.