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FAI to present Uefa with range of Aviva capacity scenarios in hope to hold on to Dublin's Euro 2020 games

The governing body are set to make a decision on whether to retain the 12-nation hosting arrangement in March.

The Aviva Stadium.
The Aviva Stadium.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated Dec 26th 2020, 11:59 AM

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland will submit two different capacity scenarios for the Aviva Stadium to Uefa in a bid to host four Euro 2020 games as expected. 

Uefa are then expected to make a call on whether to press ahead with the current, pan-Europe hosting set-up next March. 

Uefa have asked all 12 host cities of the competition to work with their local health authorities to draw up a range of revised hosting scenarios for the year-delayed tournament, with the European governing body eager for as many fans to attend games as possible. 

Dublin is slated to host three group games along with one knockout round game, and the city’s Local Organising Structure – working with the Aviva Stadium, Dublin City Council, and government – have drawn up potential city/match scenarios and risk assessments in which games are hosted at the Aviva with: a full house; at 50% capacity; at 25-30% capacity; and behind closed doors. 

These will be reviewed in January, and the FAI must then submit a preferred plan and an agreed, back-up plan for hosting the four games to Uefa by 5 March.

The FAI also hope to have some fans in the stadium for the Republic of Ireland’s 2022 World Cup qualifier with Luxembourg on 27 March and the friendly with Qatar three days later. 

Stephen Kenny’s side will also have two friendly games at the end of the current season in either May or June, though they will not be staged at the Aviva Stadium if the ground gets the go-ahead to stage Euro 2020 games. 

The FAI are also aiming to have a new title sponsor for the senior international sides in place by that stage, as they are still looking for a replacement for Three mobile.

In a letter to FAI members ahead of the Association’s virtual AGM next Tuesday, seen by The42, Marketing Director Mark Russell explained Three have invested heavily in English football – they have taken over as Chelsea’s shirt sponsors – and have made a wider strategic shift to music. 

Elsewhere, Russell writes that the FAI have had other fruitful discussions regarding sponsorship renewals, amid separate media reports SSE Airtricity may extend their title sponsorship of the League of Ireland. He adds that the FAI are finalising League of Ireland media deals covering live television, online streaming and gaming elements, with the WatchLOI streaming platform expected to be retained. 

jack-byrne-lifts-the-sse-airtricity-league-premier-division-trophy Jack Byrne and Shamrock Rovers lift the SSE Airtrcitiy Premier Division title. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The FAI are also developing an eLeagueof Ireland competition with EA Sports, based on the Fifa video game, which is expected to launch next month. 

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The League of Ireland itself is provisionally set to kick off on 26 February, with a Participation Agreement under review and said to be close to agreement. The licensing process is expected to be completed by the start of February. 

The FAI’s AGM members will be given an opportunity to discuss and query this year’s annual accounts next week, which were published at the start of the month showing the FAI made a loss of €5 million in 2019 as debts grew to nearly €70 million. 

To mitigate against the impact of the pandemic, the FAI drew down €13.2 million of emergency Covid-19 relief from Sport Ireland this year – though asked for closer to €20 million – and Fifa provided an interest-free loan of $5 million. 

The FAI introduced pay deferrals on a sliding scale when the pandemic hit in March, with all salaries returning to their full level in November. A portion of the deferrals were paid in December. 

Elsewhere, the FAI are set to meet Sport Ireland on 4 January to outline how all levels of football can continue at Level Three of the nation’s Covid guidelines.

Writing to members ahead of the AGM, new CEO Jonathan Hill outlined the “unprecedented” challenges of 2020.

“Covid-19 has challenged us all like nothing else in that one-hundred-year history of our Association.  The manner in which Irish football responded to the challenge, for the good of the nation and the community and not just our game, is a credit to all concerned. At the AGM next week and the Council meeting that follows it, you will hear many people thank you for your efforts to keep football on the field during 2020 at a time when the physical and mental benefits of our game have never been more important. 

“That hasn’t been easy. There were times when we had to juggle the national good with the desire to  get our players kicking a football. There were occasions when national directives flew in the face of that desire. But football survived and will thrive again thanks to all of you and those who work with  you as volunteers, coaches, club officials, match officials, parents, guardians and supporters.”

The same document to members includes some stats on Covid testing from Dr. Alan Byrne. The FAI conducted approximately 2500 Covid tests across camps involving the senior men’s and women’s international teams along with the men’s U21 squad, which resulted in seven positive tests, which included three within-camp transmissions. 

- First published today at 11.19



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Gavin Cooney

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