THE FAI HAVE taken a significant step closer to hosting the much-anticipated friendly with England after UEFA’s latest ruling which would allow the game to take place in May 2012.
There have been positive comments coming from both camps in recent months with FAI chief executive John Delaney indicating that there was a real chance of the team ranked fifth in the world coming to the Aviva Stadium if the two nations weren’t drawn in the same group at this summer’s European Championships.
Ireland have since discovered they will play current champions Spain, Italy and Croatia while Fabio Capello’s side are in Group D with co-hosts Ukraine, Sweden and France – meaning an agreement looked to be on the cards.
A window in late May was mooted as the most suitable date for the game to go ahead, with the Czech Republic scheduled to visit Dublin on 29 February and Holland travelling to play at Wembley on the same date.
The fixture was put in serious doubt when it was discovered that UEFA prevented Euro 2012 finalists playing each other 30 days prior to the start of the tournament meaning it would be impossible for the match to take place in the coming months.
“The UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting yesterday agreed a change to article 2.08 of the UEFA European Football Championship 2011-12 regulations and exceptionally to allow the playing of one friendly only in the month prior to the start of the final tournament among competing teams as long as they are not from the same group,” a UEFA spokesperson told The Score earlier today.
While the FAI were unavailable to comment, the way is now clear for the first meeting of the two sides in 17 years.
That game in February 1995 was abandoned when rioting erupted in sections of the old ground after David Kelly had put Ireland a goal up.