Irish FA maintains ‘keep Sunday special’ policy

A move to make Sunday fixtures mandatory has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Irish Football Association (IFA), which governs the sport in Northern Ireland.

At last month’s IFA AGM, members voted to maintain current protections, which allow clubs to opt out of playing league football on a Sunday.

The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) proposal to change the rules was defeated by 104 votes to 27.

‘No appetite’

The NIFL organises domestic league football in Northern Ireland, comprising 44 member clubs. It also operates leagues at U18 and U16 levels.

there is no appetite for a change to Sunday football rules

The proposal sought to exempt all NIFL matches from the regulation which states “no match shall be played within Northern Ireland on a Sunday, unless the two participating clubs and competition organisers agree to do so”.

But a source present at the IFA AGM told The News Letter: “The overall message was loud and clear that there is no appetite for a change to Sunday football rules.”


Reflecting on the NIFL motion, former Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey said: “I can’t understand for the life of me why we can’t be more inventive with the Saturday in terms of kick-off times.

“Why can’t they be at midday, mid evening or at night? There is enough scope to be flexible with Friday night football and football on a Saturday.”

My priority on a Sunday is worshipping God

Ballymena United has a long track record of refusing to play on a Sunday. During his tenure there, Jeffrey said: “My own view is very simply: God made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

He explained, “My priority on a Sunday is worshipping God”, adding: “the practicalities of trying to prepare for a game on a Sunday would interfere dramatically with getting to church”.

The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

Only a few decades ago, a high view of the Lord’s Day was standard among English-speaking evangelicals. Yet today, there are many Christians for whom the whole notion of one day set aside for God seems a quaint throw-back to Victorian values. It is easy to feel intimidated by the tide of this popular thinking within the evangelical world.

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