The Republic of Ireland’s Euro play-off against Slovakia has been postponed until the autumn following a decision by Uefa conveyed to associations today.
All 55 member federations were today involved in a video conference that heard completion of club competitions remains the priority once the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic subside to allow football resume.
With the European Championship finals deferred until June 2021 following the coronavirus outbreak, Uefa are in no rush to finalise the line-up.
Ireland are one of 16 nations vying for the final four slots. Their original League B semi-final in Bratislava was scheduled for March 26 but even after the Slovaks explored the idea of playing behind closed doors, Uefa pushed out the fixtures until early June.
As the outbreak sweeps across Europe, with several countries braced for peak periods later this month, those plans had to be reassessed by the European governing body.
As broadcasting commitments decree that European competitions and major leagues take precedence, even if games are to be played behind closed doors, international fixtures will have to wait.
That means Ireland are unlikely to face the Slovaks in Bratislava until at least September, possibly October. The winner of that semi-final is due to meet either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern Ireland for a place at the showpiece.
It also leaves the FAI in a quandary about their managerial situation. Stephen Kenny, according to his contract, is due to succeed Mick McCarthy on August 1 but the incumbent is likely to be allowed see out the campaign in view of the extenuating circumstances. Talks are expected to take place in the coming weeks to clarify the succession plan, given these unprecedented events.
Kenny is currently manager of the Ireland U21 team, who are top of their Euro qualifying group with three fixtures left.
The FAI’s plans to utilise the June window by sending Kenny’s side to the Toulon Tournament look doomed as the French tournament is on the brink of cancellation.
All Uefa competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, are indefinitely postponed but that comes as no surprise with the finals of both competitions called off with no new dates yet allocated.
The UEFA executive committee has also decided to suspend certain aspects of club licensing provisions due to the “increasing uncertainty generated by the ongoing extraordinary events”.
These include the requirement to provide the preparation and assessment of clubs’ future financial information.
The UEFA statement read: “The executive committee reiterated its full commitment to club licensing and financial fair play and agreed that the current exceptional circumstances necessitate some specific interventions to facilitate the work of member associations and clubs.”