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Talks to continue today in bid to rescue League of Ireland season

Yesterday’s talks, billed as make-or-break, saw little progress made.

Dalymount Park.
Dalymount Park.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TALKS WILL CONTINUE today in a bid to rescue the 2020 League of Ireland season, after little progress was made in talks between the FAI and the 19 League of Ireland clubs yesterday.

Yesterday’s 4pm meeting was billed as make-or-break as clubs hoped the FAI would present a financial package big enough to convince them they can play games behind closed doors while meeting their costs. 

That didn’t happen, however, as the FAI did not present firm proposals, as they seek further financial support from the government and Fifa. 

Fifa announced a €132 million resuce package for all member associations in April, but it’s not yet been confirmed when and how much will be given to the FAI. Fifa president Gianni Infantino said on Sunday a final plan for the dispensing of the money will be unveiled in “the coming weeks.” 

Meanwhile, outgoing sports minister Shane Ross told the Dáil last night he would be “amazed” if the League of Ireland was not included in a financial relief package for sports organisations being prepared by the government. 

That package hasn’t been finalised yet either, and another complication for the FAI is the lack of clarity around the government’s Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme. That the scheme continues to the end of the season – whenever that season might end – is seen as vital to funding a resumption. For the moment, the government have extended that scheme to the end of August. 

Further talks with clubs are planned for today, along with a meeting between the FAI, the PFAI and player representatives from each club.

Talks are expected to continue over the weekend. 

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While Uefa are eager for all member associations to agree on how to conclude their seasons before their Executive Committee meet next Wednesday, this is thought to be less urgent a deadline for the League of Ireland, as its summer schedule means their sides competing in European competition for the 2020/21 season have already been determined. 

With no progress made yesterday, Dundalk goalkeeper and PFAI Chairman Gary Rogers tweeted “Looks like the current and next generation of footballers are set to pay the price for the mistakes of the past.”

“I’m sure the €4.5m [sic] from Uefa would have been more than enough to get domestic football back up and running and secure the many jobs associated with our game.” 

To mitigate against the effects of the Covid-19 shutdown, Uefa allowed member associations draw down up to €4.3 million of future payments in April. The FAI did not qualify for the cash injection, however, as these funds had already been drawn down by the Association, when John Delaney was employed as Chief Executive. 

 

Delaney is the last person to hold the CEO role on a permanent basis at the Association. Since he stepped away from the role in March 2019, Rea Walshe, Noel Mooney, Paul Cooke and latterly Gary Owens have had the role on an interim basis. The FAI today published advertisements for the role on a full-time basis.  

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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