Clubs are expecting tomorrow to finally learn the details of the financial package which the FAI have been working on to help facilitate the possible return of the League of Ireland.
If the proposals are ready to be presented at today’s weekly video conference with the FAI’s interim CEO Gary Owens, it’s understood that the clubs will then be asked to revert with their conclusions by next Tuesday.
The PFAI — the players’ union — will also be briefing its members on today’s developments.
At the heart of the matter is the feasibility of a league which is hugely dependent on gate receipts and attendant revenue streams being able to function ‘behind closed doors’ — or even with limited attendances — for as long as that is deemed necessary under Covid-19 restrictions.
Provisionally, the plan is for a truncated season to resume on August 14 — but divisions have already emerged about the wisdom of pursuing that strategy, with some clubs indicating that they would sooner see the season cancelled altogether rather than risk their clubs’ entire futures.
The FAI’s rescue package, and how far it can compensate for continuing losses, will be crucial to winning over the sceptics.
Given the diverse state of finances across the league, clubs will also be eager to see how financial support will be allocated.
Related issues still to be thrashed out include player wages and contracts, venue preparation, and the calendar itself, and all of this against the backdrop of ongoing health and safety concerns.
As part of a pilot return, the four qualifiers for European competition — Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and Derry City — have already returned to training in preparation for a mini-tournament next month.
Players and staff from the four clubs have undergone three rounds of FAI-funded Covid-19 testing with, encouragingly, all negative results returned so far.
Whether it’s still planned to extend testing to cover the entirety of both the men’s and women’s senior leagues — something which simply couldn’t be done without the State shouldering the financial burden — is expected to feature on today’s agenda.