Cash lifeline for League of Ireland clubs

Cash lifeline for League of Ireland clubs

The imminent announcement by the State to pay 75% of wages to employees unemployed due to Covid-19 is expected to save swathes of League of Ireland jobs.

Just 24 hours after Cork City become the second Premier Division club to stop paying their players, Bohemians last night went the opposite direction.

The Dublin-based club, back in Europe for the first time since 2012, confirmed they would honour the contracts of players and staff while games were suspended until June 19.

That resumption date is very much dependant on external factors surrounding the unfolding situation, the sort of uncertainty which forced Cork, and Sligo Rovers three days before them, to dish out grim news to personnel.

A guaranteed €220,000 windfall from European qualification, coupled with a bumper season ticket drive, provided Bohs with the armoury to break the mould.

Few clubs can afford to survive in the absence of matchday income, particularly as nine games have been culled from the revised season calendar, but they are determined for their players and management not to be out of pocket.

As it stands, state aid for each player out of action sits at the standard social welfare weekly payment of €203 but the UK’s vow to cover 80% has jolted the Irish government into action.

It is now anticipated that League of Ireland clubs will only have to top up the final 20% to maintain their salaries of players until games restart in the summer.

Notably, Bohemians confirmed the situation will be kept under review, a natural caveat should the lull prolong towards August or September.

There’s no indication that Cork will reverse their decision announced on Saturday afternoon to cease paying wages from next week.

Only a handful of administrators are being kept on the books.

“Attempting to balance our duties as an employer with our responsibility to safeguard the club has been an extremely difficult proposition,” said the City board.

“The club has been working on a number of initiatives to generate revenue and, while we are immensely grateful for the support we have received thus far, this comes nowhere near replacing the revenue that would have been generated by playing matches.

“We will work with our staff with regard to the recently announced government funding for workers affected by this unprecedented crisis and do everything we can to help and support them.

“We believe that this action, while regrettable, is the most prudent approach we can take to ensure that the club will be in a position to offer employment again once the football resumes.”

Meanwhile, also on the subject of Covid-19, ex-League of Ireland player Lee Duffy has used his own experience of the virus to warn the public against complacency.

The former Drogheda United, Longford Town, Shelbourne, and Wexford striker has fortunately overcome an ordeal to tell his tale.

The 28-year-old said: “I tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago and spent eight days in hospital hooked up to oxygen as I could no longer breathe on my own, scared not knowing what was going to happen.

“Luckily I got through it and I’m starting to feel a lot better now.

“My advice to everybody is to not take this lightly, it is very serious.”

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