The NIFL Championship Committee will meet on Monday evening to discuss whether or not it is viable to start their season – although Jeff Akin, Vice-Chairman of the NIFL Championship Committee, and Ballinamallard United representative, is not expecting a decision to be made on the night.

Ballinamallard United Chairman, Tom Elliott, says that the Ferney Park-based club will be asking for the season to go ahead, providing that they can play a 22-game campaign.

Elliott feels that if the league can get under way in April, and if an extension to the end of June is granted, then completing the 22 games is possible.

“I have been one who has been trying to hold off making a decision for as long as possible to give us some chance of playing, but I do think that if you can’t play the 22 games, then the league wouldn’t have any real credibility,” said Elliott.

“However, I think that the 22 games are possible. You have to be sensible about it; I still think you could do it if you extend the season through to the end of June, and then start next season a bit later, if required.

“You would have to be looking at starting in April, unless we are granted elite status, and if that is the case then we could maybe start a bit earlier.

“Realistically, though, at this stage you are talking about April to June with an extension, and I think that would be enough time to run it off,” he added.

Championship Vice-Chairman, Aiken, acknowledges that there is a split among clubs as to whether to return or not, and he feels that Monday night will be a discussion with clubs airing their views, with a decision made at a later date.

“I think what we will be trying to do on Monday night is to ask that if we get the clearance to go and play on March 7, and that means that we start towards the end of March, is there a capacity for 22 games to be fitted in along with the Irish Cup?

“The answer to that will go a long way to determining what way the clubs vote.

“I have a feeling that on Monday night, it will be a sharing of information and then probably come back again on it.

“My view is that we don’t need to rush on the February 1 [date] to make a decision; we maybe need to find out more information with regards to the Irish Cup, if clubs do decide to null and void the season, or are there any other alternatives that we can look at.”

And in regards to that, he says that he will be involved in meetings prior to Monday night to see what their options are.

“Myself as the Vice-Chairman of the Championship Committee and the Chair, Trevor McCann, will meet with the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Football League Board, Gerard Lawlor, and the interim Managing Director of NIFL, Steven Mills, this week to try and gain a little bit more information on what options are open to us.

“There are lots of things to be considered at this stage. We also need to find out that if we do resume, that the NIFL and the IFA will pay for Covid testing,” added Aiken.