US interest but League of Ireland needs Fifa cash boost

A US-based firm has expressed an interest in live-streaming League of Ireland fixtures but it will take a mammoth financial contribution from Fifa for the 2020 season to resume behind closed doors.
US interest but League of Ireland needs Fifa cash boost

A US-based firm has expressed an interest in live-streaming League of Ireland fixtures but it will take a mammoth financial contribution from Fifa for the 2020 season to resume behind closed doors.

The FAI yesterday requested their 19 clubs to digest a 40-page working document aimed at restarting the season in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet details related solely to safety and logistics rather than costs and how to finance them.

Money matters are due to discussed later this week after all clubs submitted their financial projections about the new norm of empty stadia to the FAI on Monday.

It is understood the collective deficit arising from a combination of losing matchday income, sponsorship and added medical procedures amounts to €5m.

While the FAI last week gleefully accepted an advance from Fifa of €462,750 to each association, more weight was attached to them declaring the early payment as the first step of a far-reaching financial relief plan for world football in the wake of the pandemic.

The initial stab from the streaming hawkers values a new rights deal at around €300,000, on the basis that betting firm ChyronHego/Trackchamp are already paying the FAI €150,000 for streaming this season’s fixtures to their overseas punters.

That leaves the FAI requiring multimillions from the world governing body to plug the gap.

Negotiations with Fifa, albeit aspirational, have recently commenced.

For all the importance of guidelines on temperature testing of players and limiting stadia to a maximum of essential 214 attendees per match, clubs won’t countenance a return just to lose cash.

St Patrick’s Athletic, Cork City and Finn Harps are the first three top-flight clubs to publicly dismiss the closed-doors alternative but it is thought the four involved in European competition — Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Derry City — are more open-minded. They are due to contest first round matches in early August, according to Uefa’s latest timetable unveiled last week.

The FAI’s deputy chief executive Niall Quinn last week talked up the prospect of generating revenue through streaming to counteract the undesirable options left for reviving the campaign.

Teams in both the Premier and First Divisions haven’t kicked the ball since sport was shelved on March 12.

“Analysis of the financial impact of playing behind-closed-doors is well underway with our clubs and we are examining potential revenue streams from live streaming and other sources,” said Quinn yesterday.

The Players Football Association of Ireland, who along with the FAI and the National League Executive Committee (NLEC), prepared the bulky document, have recommended a six-week lead-in period of reconditioning.

That torpedoes the FAI’s target fixtures resumption date of June 19, unless the training suddenly recommences next week.

September is considered the more realistic comeback and many ducks have to be lined up for that outcome to materialise.

All League clubs are availing of state supports to pay their players and a continuation of that scheme beyond the June expiration is understood to be critical for any plan to work.

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