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FAI accept Bohemians' apology over breach of training guidelines during Covid-19 pandemic

The club have been following government advice rather than the FAI’s by returning to training in small groups.

A view of Dalymount Park.
A view of Dalymount Park.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Jun 4th 2020, 8:19 PM

THE FAI HAVE this evening announced that they have accepted an apology from Bohemians after a breach of training guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bohemians had admitted they made an error in gathering two small groups of their players to train at a public park.

A video surfaced online showing a number of Bohs’ players training at Fr. Collins’ Park in Donaghmeade, and the club admitted they had facilitated small group training sessions on six occasions since 18 May.

Although the FAI have advised that Bohs and the other three sides preparing for European competition – Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City – can return to training from 8 June, Bohs’ made the decision to return to training in small groups in line with Phase One of the government roadmap.

“We accept that facilitating small group training sessions was contrary to FAI advice and against the professional advice offered by the FAI’s medical director Dr Alan Byrne,” said a Bohemians spokesperson.

“We are aware of our position as role models for the game in Ireland and are grateful to be one of the four teams involved in the pilot programme designed to secure a safer return to football for everyone involved with our sport across the country.

“We regret if our actions, although made in good faith in line with phase one of the government roadmap, may have placed that programme at risk.

“As a club, we apologise to the FAI and to all our fellow stakeholders for any offence caused. We are mindful of the huge amount of work and sacrifice being made by so many in this country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and we thank all those on the frontline for their ongoing contributions.”

Welcoming the Bohemians’ apology, FAI Interim CEO Gary Owens said: “We are happy that Bohemians have reaffirmed their commitment to the pathway we are on to ensure a safer return to football. The guidelines we have issued are based on the best possible medical advice from our Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

“It is imperative that all our clubs abide by our guidelines to ensure we can get our players of all ages back on the pitch in the safest environment possible. Our pilot programme is central to this effort and we welcome confirmation from Bohemians that they will follow our guidelines and help Irish football return to action as soon as it is safe and feasible.”

Bohs and the other three European sides are permitted an earlier return to collective training than the rest of the League, with the rest of the Premier Division along with all First Division clubs set to return on 29 June. 

Bohs, Derry, Shamrock Rovers, and Dundalk are set to compete in a four-team mini-tournament behind-closed-doors to prepare them for European competition. A date for the competition has yet to be announced, and while it was initially envisaged that it would be held at the Aviva Stadium, it may yet be held at Tallaght Stadium. 

As part of ensuring the game’s safe return, the FAI have conducted two rounds of tests for Covid-19 among players and staff at each of the four clubs. There have yet to be any positive tests.

First published today at 09.43

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Gavin Cooney

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