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Leitrim make 'shock' call to hold knockout stages of club championships behind closed doors

The county board say that the limit of 200 attendees at a game is not enough to satisfy demand.

The decision will affect the senior, intermediate and junior football championships.
The decision will affect the senior, intermediate and junior football championships.
Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

LEITRIM GAA HAS announced that the knockout stages of its club football championships will be played behind closed doors.

The county board has released a lengthy statement about the decision, explaining that spectators will not be able to attend the games while the government’s limit of 200 people at outdoor sporting events remains in place.

This new rule will apply to knockout stages of the Connacht Gold Senior Football Championship, Smith Monumentals Intermediate Football Championship. It’s also possible that the semi-finals and final of the Vistamed Junior A Football Championship will be played behind closed doors. 

The news comes ahead of the last round of the group stages of the senior and intermediate Championships, which are due to be played this weekend.

“While this is a decision that is bound to register immediate shock, there is a strong rationale behind it,” the statement begins.

“It is widely recognised that when arriving at the concluding stages of any competition, interest levels rise accordingly.

“Interest in our games at group stages has been heightened in the very fact that there was such a long layoff from sporting activity and we also believe that interest levels will have risen sufficiently high enough to ensure that the current restriction of a maximum of 200 people per venue, inclusive of players and officials, will not be near enough to satisfy demand.

“While we are aware that the quarter-final pairings will not be decided until after Saturday’s action, it is immaterial what the various combinations of teams may become, interest levels will naturally rise.

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“This, almost certainly, will place club officials and county officials in a near-impossible situation as regards who will gain access to the limited number of ‘golden tickets’ in match situations which would, in all practicality, see the number of tickets available to supporters reduce from a heretofore 60 per club to a number at most 50 and probably even less when one considers the various interested parties who will naturally look to attend as our competitions move towards a conclusion.”

40 Player/Official Passes for the aforementioned games from the weekend of quarter-finals forward will be allocated to clubs, while Leitrim GAA Livestream intends to extend its coverage of the games.

Media personnel are also still permitted to attend the games.

“In contemplating the groundbreaking nature of this decision,” the statement concludes, “we trust that you accept that it has been made in the best interests of all concerned, given that we have to ensure the safety of all, players, officials, and supporters in the midst of a pandemic that does not seem to be going away anywhere soon.”

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