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31 July restart confirmed for amended League of Ireland season

Results from the campaign so far will stand, with each team to play a total of 18 games for the regular season.

Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers, who hold a three-point lead at the top of the Premier Division.
Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers, who hold a three-point lead at the top of the Premier Division.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

A DATE HAS finally been agreed upon for the return of League of Ireland football following a meeting at Abbotstown this morning.

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 season has been on hold since March. However, the National League Executive Committee confirmed today that the action will resume on an amended schedule from Friday, 31 July.

The truncated season will involve teams facing each other twice, which will see the campaign conclude with clubs having played 18 games apiece. That tally will include games which have already been played.

The teams who finished in second, third, fourth and fifth place in the First Division will then contest a series of play-offs. The winner of that series will face the team that finishes ninth in the Premier Division for the right to play in the top flight next season.

With the NLEC opting to retain the original format for promotion and relegation, the First Division winners will go up automatically and replace the team sitting at the foot of the Premier Division at the end of the season.

Having played five games, Shamrock Rovers currently hold a three-point lead over champions Dundalk at the top of the Premier Division table.

In the First Division, Cabinteely have played three games and lead Drogheda United and Longford Town – who have a game in hand – by three points.

Fixtures will be announced “in due course”, according to an SSE Airtricity League statement.

“It’s good that we can now start to look towards a return date and also that we have clarity on what the fixture list will look like and the plan for the rest of the season,” said interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn.

“We’ve looked at how we can make the Extra.ie FAI Cup part of the agenda so that clubs aren’t being stretched too far in terms of the length of the season and cost,” he added.

“What we’ve discussed at this point is that the eight quarter-finalists will complete the Extra.ie FAI Cup after the SSE Airtricity League season has ended, and they will be rewarded for getting to that point, to help them financially for the remaining Cup matches and the longer season.”

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Paul Dollery

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