Sligo Rovers have become first of what is expected to be several top-flight League of Ireland clubs to lay off their staff and players.
Last Thursday, as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic began the sweep across Europe and Ireland, the FAI confirmed an immediate cessation of all football matches. Although the date cited was March 26, matches are not expected to resume until late May at the earliest.
First Division Drogheda United were the first to react, stopping payments of wages and expenses to players, but the decision of a club of Sligo’s stature and revenue streams escalates the crisis for the domestic game.
Over the past week, a steering group has been working behind the scenes to quantify the potential deficit of matchday income for clubs.
Sligo will pay their staff and players the weekly €203 in job assistance and reclaim the benefit from the state.
“We have reached the extremely difficult decision to implement temporary layoffs for all management, players and administration staff due to the shutdown of the League of Ireland for the past two weeks and foreseeable future,” they said in a statement.
“Following intensive talks in the last week involving the National League Executive Committee, the PFAI and the FAI, along with receiving government guidance, the club felt there was no option but to come to this conclusion in order to prioritise long-term employment both in football and administrative roles at Sligo Rovers.
“We acknowledge ongoing efforts to find a solution from all parties and we recognise that it is an evolving situation. However, we must act in the best interest of our club in the long-term.”
The National League Executive Committee, a forum dominated by club representatives, will convene today ahead of a conference call involving all 20 clubs tomorrow.
Uppermost on the agenda will be assessing the options available, such as cutting the series of games in the Premier Division from four to three or scrapping one of the Cup competitions.
FAI interim chief executive Niall Quinn earlier this week highlighted the scale of the crisis, casting doubt over specific government intervention for football.