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Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off in June shelved as FAI face manager contract dilemma

The rescheduled games have been postponed again today after Uefa’s conference call with its 55 member associations.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with assistant Terry Connor and coach Robbie Keane.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with assistant Terry Connor and coach Robbie Keane.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland’s rescheduled Euro 2020 play-off matches will not take place this June, it has been confirmed. 

Uefa held a video meeting with the 55 member associations today to discuss strategy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with interim CEO Gary Owen representing the FAI. 

It was revealed that plans to stage Ireland’s game against Slovakia in Bratislava and the other play-off between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Northern Ireland — as well as the meeting of the two winners for a place at the finals — have been shelved. 

The fixtures were originally due to be played on 26 March and 31 March respectively, but a decision was made to defer them to early June due to the spread of Covid-19 last month.

New dates have not yet been announced, but September has been mooted as a potential option.

A Uefa statement reads: “The executive committee reiterated its full commitment to club licensing and financial fair play and agreed that the current exceptional circumstances necessitate some specific interventions to facilitate the work of member associations and clubs.”

With Stephen Kenny due to take over as Ireland’s senior manager on 1 August, refixing the matches for later in the year is set to cause the FAI further headaches.

Had the Boys in Green failed to qualify for Euro 2020 — now set to be hosted next year — by losing either of the two games in June, the succession plan would not have caused an issue.

However, the association’s dilemma will now be intensified as Mick McCarthy’s remit has always been to reach the European championships and manage the team at the finals before stepping aside for current U21 boss Kenny.

Yesterday, it was announced that the FAI have introduced a tiered pay deferral scheme for team – including McCarthy and his backroom staff — to mitigate against the financial effects of the coronavirus crisis.

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Ben Blake

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