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FAI developing contingency plan to protect LOI clubs amid coronavirus uncertainty

Staging games behind closed doors would have a devastating impact on clubs in Ireland.

A Shamrock Rovers fan at last week's game against Sligo Rovers.
A Shamrock Rovers fan at last week's game against Sligo Rovers.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

THE FAI TODAY committed to developing a contingency plan to best protect League of Ireland clubs amid the uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus. 

Although the Irish government have yet to legislate on mass gatherings amid the outbreak, a number of European countries have decreed that sporting events are to be played behind closed doors, while others have postponed games. 

La Liga have decided to play their next two rounds of fixtures behind closed doors, while all football in Italy has been cancelled until 3 April.  

With gate receipts accounting for 28% of the League of Ireland’s income – the fourth-highest in Europe – clubs here are particularly vulnerable to games being played behind closed doors.

A Finn Harps board member told The42 yesterday that the club would “would almost certainly fold in that scenario unless there was outside assistance.” 

The FAI today met with the Players’ union and the National League Executive Committee to discuss the potential impact of Covid-19 on football here, and have established a steering group to continuously monitor developments and examine the potential impact of a shutdown. 

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In a statement, the FAI say they plan to present to Uefa the potential financial implications to clubs and players of an interruption to the season, and will also submit proposals on “how best the Irish football industry can be protected.” 

An FAI spokesman said: “Today’s meeting was a productive one and allowed us all to focus on the situation facing our National League clubs and players. We discussed at length our serious concerns around Covid-19 and began to develop a contingency plan to help our clubs during this potentially difficult time.

“We are currently gathering all financial data and working with the clubs and the players on the financial implications they face. Once we have a true understanding of this, we will be approaching Government and Uefa on behalf of the clubs to seek their support.”


The Association will hold daily meetings regarding the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on Irish football, and say they will support government policy in relation to mass gathering and sporting events and will take their lead from the Department of Health. 

With reporting by Paul Fennessey

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Gavin Cooney

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