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Dublin: 7°C Friday 4 December 2020

League of Ireland club want Friday's kick-off changed as it clashes with Man United game

The FAI say no formal request has been submitted.

Dundalk visit the Brandywell at 7.45pm.
Dundalk visit the Brandywell at 7.45pm.
Image: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

THE KICK-OFF TIMES for this Friday’s SSE Airtricity League fixtures won’t be changed despite fears from clubs that attendances will be affected due to Man United’s televised game at the same time.

Louis van Gaal’s side face Aston Villa on Friday evening, a game which will be shown on Sky Sports at 7.45pm, because there is a planned march in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon.

With a full set of League of Ireland games this Friday, Derry City were one club to express their concern over the fixture clash and the negative affect it would have on their match day revenue.

However, the Football Association of Ireland have told The42 that no club have lodged a written request to have the kick-off times changed.

“Derry City made a verbal enquiry last week in relation to changing the kick-off time of their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixture against Dundalk this Friday,” an FAI spokesperson said.

“We have not received from them, or any other club, a request to change kick-off times this Friday.”

Speaking to the Derry Journal, City chief executive Sean Barrett said the FAI ‘were reluctant’ to consider their request when it was raised.

From next season, Sky Sports will broadcast ten live Premier League fixtures and this week provides a forewarning of the issue the League of Ireland will invariably be forced to address next year.

“The FAI have assured us that it won’t be a concern this year [Friday night Premier League matches on Sky Sports] because they were bringing it in over a period of time,” Barrett said.

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General view from tonight's game in the Brandywell Attendances at the Brandywell have fallen again this season. Source: Margaret McLaughlin/INPHO

“Obviously it’s going to affect the crowds for all home teams in the League of Ireland this Friday night, however.

“It’s something the league are going to have a serious look at for next season because Manchester United, Arsenal and teams like that, playing on a Friday night, are going to affect the crowds – there’s no doubt about that.

“We’re looking at different alternatives. But what are the alternatives – Saturday at 5pm? But there’s a game on then. Is it Sunday? – there’s two games on then and there’s one on Monday. And then on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays there’s Champions League games. So it’s just going to be very difficult to get a slot for League of Ireland games.”

Attendances at the Brandywell, as well as across most of the league, have dwindled in recent years and the introduction of televised Premier League games on a Friday night will increase the headache faced by clubs.

Derry’s average attendance this season has been 1,493 with a total gate of just 8,341 for the first ten games of the campaign.

Originally published at 14.54

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Ryan Bailey

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