Liam Beckett: Let’s start the new Irish League season by cracking down on divers and freezing prizes for dedicated fans

The new season matches are out and every fan I meet is already counting down the days until the action starts on Saturday August 13th.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Irish League currently represents the best value for money football entertainment in the UK and the steady increase in attendance figures over the last few years certainly testifies to this assertion.

However, although our game is seeing a steady rise in the popularity rankings, I guess there’s still no harm in aiming for perfection and having a wishlist for the upcoming season.

Personally – and I admit that I am probably in the minority here – I really feel that the level of refereeing is also improving. Sure, there will be games when the referee stinks, but haven’t we all had bad days at one time or another in our lives?

Credit where credit is due to our match officials, but there is still room for improvement.

We have a few referees who have understood our game – and the crooks trying to trick them – well and truly understood.

I would now like to see the rest of our officials follow their lead and crack down on the divers who plague our game and are a growing embarrassment to the vast majority of solid, genuine players who entertain us week in and week out in the Irish League.

It was abundantly clear, especially last season, that when top referees ignored drama queens who fell to the ground as though they had been rammed, they quickly got back to their feet and continued play as soon as they hit. they realized they had been discovered.

We badly need more of this quality from match officials and believe me we will soon see the scammers, divers and cheaters who make a living from our game properly exposed. This needs to happen for the betterment of our game, together we can take them down – and the sooner the better.

The inconsistency on this issue amongst our officials is really bothering fans and managers alike, so the aim must be for more of our referees to develop a set and regain both control and the respect of everyone involved.

With attendance figures steadily rising, I also want our clubs to freeze admission fees for at least the new season.

A welcome boost in numbers clearly likes their weekly dose of Irish League football, but with inflation set to soar and the country in the midst of a cost of living crisis, it would be a fitting move if officials of the club could recognize that hardship and keep the prices fixed in extremely difficult times for everyone – especially the beleaguered parents who are also taking their children to games, putting a huge strain on an already stretched weekly budget. Clubs need to recognize this and help where possible.

Another big factor last season was the coverage provided by the BBC.

As well as the usual extensive Sportsound Saturday radio show and live commentary, we now have more games shown and delivered via the normal channels or streamed on the iPlayer.

This much broader approach has proven to be a huge success and I guess I could be accused of being a tad greedy when I say that not only would I like to see that extended coverage maintained, but I would also like to see it increased there where possible.

I loved reuniting with Ian Lewers in Northern Ireland

It was great to have a catch up and a golden round with my good friend Ian Lewers at my beloved Galgorm Golf Club on Friday.

The international hockey star from Ireland, England and Great Britain – who was at home a few days before returning to London – plays with a handicap of 4 and, believe me, if he had not become a world-class hockey player, he might well have made it as a pro on the golf tour.

He hits the ball an absolute mile and has every other shot as well, although his dad David and I still showed him that we can putt long too.

While Ian loves his football and uses Sunday Life Sport to keep an eye on developments in the Irish League, it is hockey that this multi-talented and humble lad has chosen and his career highs include being a double Olympian – 2012 in London and Rio in 2016 – in addition, he is a bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games.

He is another outstanding sportsman who has flown the Northern Ireland flag around the world and he still loves to come home as often as possible. He loves this place and has never forgotten his roots.

Good to see Niall Horan extend his friendship with the World Invitational

Music star Niall Horan has once again confirmed his attendance at the annual ISPS Handa World Invitational Pro-Am golf tournament at Galgorm Castle Golf Club on August 10.

This event brings together some of the best male and female golfers.

Our very own Stephanie Meadow, who won the 2019 edition of the competition, will join Leona Maguire – Ireland’s first-ever winner on the LPGA Tour – in the women’s competition.

On the men’s side, DP World Tour winners Guido Migliozzi and Ewen Ferguson are set to play alongside Daniel Gavins, who will defend the title he won in style last year after posting a seven-under final round. normal 65.

Undoubtedly, we are going to have a summer of top sport – lots of choice and, in many ways, we will be spoiled for choice.

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