FAI scrap series of fixtures and defer EA Sports Cup in bid to complete season

The FAI have extended the season and scrapped a quarter of the fixture list in a bid to complete the campaign by December 11.

FAI scrap series of fixtures and defer EA Sports Cup in bid to complete season

The FAI have extended the season and scrapped a quarter of the fixture list in a bid to complete the campaign by December 11.

Following a teleconference this morning between the FAI and the 19 league clubs, a target date to resume games has been set at June 19 but that is considered optimistic.

The FAI Cup final will remain as is for now at November 1 while the EA Sports Cup has been deferred indefinitely.

Foremost in the drive to revive the schedule following the sudden suspension of games eight days ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic are the four clubs involved in European competition.

Opening round fixtures for Dundalk in the Champions League as well as Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and Bohemians in the Europa League are currently set for July, albeit depending on Uefa decisions.

It remains to be seen what difficult financial calls are made by League of Ireland clubs in the midst of this timeline.

At the very least, they’ll be without football for three months and gate receipts of up to five home matches.

Sligo Rovers yesterday became the first Premier Division club to lay off their players, with an announcement looming from one other.

Most First Division clubs have this week stopped paying wages and expenses until football resumes.

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

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

“There are no certainties around the COVID-19 pandemic but this decision offers us something to aim for,” said Fran Gavin, summing up the uncertainty.

“UEFA hope to have European football back up and running by early June at the latest so June 19 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.”

It is understood that as clubs are opposed to contesting matches behind closed doors, due to absence of ticket revenue, any further delays in the season restarting will likely lead to the campaign being voided.

Already, some clubs have discussed reverting to a traditional new season from August to May 2020, falling into line with their European peers.

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