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League of Ireland aims to resume in three months

A teleconference took place this afternoon on Friday, March 20th and all 19 League of Ireland cl...

League of Ireland aims to resu...

League of Ireland aims to resume in three months

A teleconference took place this afternoon on Friday, March 20th and all 19 League of Ireland clubs have targeted June 19th as the date to recommence the season.

The FAI and the National League Executive Committee have targeted June 19th as the date to resume this season's SSE Airtricity League and First Division in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Irish football's governing body took the decision to suspend all footballing activity in the country until March 29th. However, it's hoped that the domestic season will recommence on June 19th and end in December.

A statement has said: "Both parties agreed to work together to play as many games as possible this season to minimise the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on attendances and sponsorship, and to consider the needs of clubs who have qualified for Europe.

"The new plan is based around UEFA guidelines on a return to club action across Europe, as presented to the FAI last Tuesday. This decision will see the Premier Division and the First Division of the SSE Airtricity League resume on the weekend commencing Friday, June 19. "

The revised calendar for the Premier Division will see it finish on Friday, December 4th. The SSE Airtricity League season will close on Friday, December 11th, with the second leg of the promotion/relegation play-off.

The FAI Cup final is scheduled to go ahead as planned on November 1st, whilst the EA SPORTS Cup will be deferred.

The new schedule will see the cancellation of the last round of fixtures in the Premier Division, now reduced to 27 games in total.

The First Division clubs will examine the possibility of fulfilling their 27-game schedule within this timeframe from June to December.

Changes to the dates for European club fixtures may force alterations to the new calendar of games as the season develops. This will be continually reviewed.

In recent days, Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United have announced temporary layoffs to their staff - both on and off the field - due to the financial pressures associated with a lack of regular fixtures.

Speaking about these changes, FAI Competitions Director Fran Gavin said: “These are very difficult times for our clubs and players and the FAI remains committed to doing everything we can to get us all through this crisis together.

“There are no certainties around the COVID-19 pandemic but this decision offers us something to aim for. UEFA hope to have European football back up and running by early June at the latest so June 19th is a realistic target for us at this moment in time.

“Together with the clubs and the Professional Footballer’s Association of Ireland, we will work together towards this date and continue to liaise with the NLEC and the PFAI to protect our clubs and players as best we can.

“The FAI will continue to work with the Department of Health and the HSE to prioritise the health of our players, match officials, supporters and staff at this time and we will continue to follow all government guidelines.”

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