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'Our game hasn't been protected' | Stephen McGuinness on LOI backing

The General Secretary of the PFAI, Stephen McGuinness, says the League of Ireland hasn't got the ...

'Our game hasn't been protecte...

'Our game hasn't been protected' | Stephen McGuinness on LOI backing

The General Secretary of the PFAI, Stephen McGuinness, says the League of Ireland hasn't got the care and attention it deserves, with more stable financial plans crucial for its future.

Match-day revenues are a vital cog in the income streams of domestic clubs, but with no games as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, clubs are struggling.

McGuinness told Eoin and Ger on OTB AM that a return to play is hugely important as soon as is possible from a health perspective.

"Can the clubs look at different revenue streams to see if we can get the league up and running? It would be catastrophic if we didn't get back and we were looking at a re-start of March.

"Obviously there are a lot of top young players, we see that with our under-21 international team and the talent in the league, to have them a season out of their careers, and their careers are quite short as it is.

"The elephant in the room is the player contracts. They do have contracts and they have to be honoured, that's something we all don't want to find ourself facing off [over]."

All clubs have been availing of the government wage subsidy scheme to keep pay checks flowing, and McGuinness says those payments need to continue or clubs will be in serious trouble.

"If that was removed that would have a massive effect, we'd be in serious trouble. It currently covers two-thirds of the wages, if that was to be pulled, from a professional football point of view we'd be in massive trouble.

"I think there do have to be discussions. Everybody is in the same [boat], whether you're a vintner or hotelier, everyone is looking for assistance, I understand that.

"But from our perspective, if the wage subsidy scheme was removed we'd be in serious trouble, because every single club in our league is utilising it at the moment.

"Match-day revenue is where the main cashflow comes from for our league - unfortunately it shows our league and how it's structured, that with no TV deal or no real proper commercial deals, that we are so reliant on match-day revenue.

"That's why we're in such financial difficulty at the moment. The wage subsidy scheme is absolutely key for the future of our game, both in the short- and medium-term. That has to stay in play - if that is taken out I just don't see how we return.

"We need to learn from this, our game hasn't been protected in the way it should have been. It didn't get the care and attention that it deserved.

"Out of this we have seen a proper TV deal and proper commercial deals need to be in place, and that's something Niall [Quinn] and Gary Owens and Roy Barrett at the top of the FAI have to ensure is in place in the future.

"If not our game is never really going to grow, and it probably shows right now the difficulty our game has had due to the lack of care it has got in the last ten, 15, or 20 years."

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Eoin Sheahan FAI Ger Gilroy League Of Ireland Off The Ball Otb Am PFAI Soccer Stephen Mcguinness