Sport 'effectively behind closed doors' as lift in crowd limits postponed

Sport 'effectively behind closed doors' as lift in crowd limits postponed
Turner's Cross file image. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer

The freeze on the number of people allowed to gather for outdoor events has come as a blow to Irish sport, affecting in particular the GAA and the League of Ireland.

GAA club championship action gets under way this Friday while the League of Ireland season is set to resume on Friday, July 31.

But plans for an increase from 200 to 500 in the number of people permitted at games, originally due to take effect from July 20, have now been put on hold until August 10, following the government’s decision to revise its easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

For Cork City, who are set to restart their League of Ireland campaign when they host Bohemians at Turner’s Cross on Sunday August 2, the setback is to some extent cushioned by prudent planning.

“From a budget point of view, we had been planning on behind-closed-doors, because when you’re looking at the finances you look at the worst-case scenario and plan accordingly,” says Eanna Buckley, the club’s Operations Manager and Club Secretary.

“But from an operational and logistical point of view, we had been looking at how we would deal with the potential for a crowd of up to 500 being able to attend the game.

“Now that it stays at 200 and assuming that figure includes everyone that’s working at the match – from teams and security to media and referees – realistically there’s not going to be much space left for supporters. So the basis on which we would be working now is that the opening games would effectively be behind closed doors.

“The disappointment we feel is mainly for the supporters. We’d love to have them back, they’re obviously the lifeblood of the club – people have bought season tickets and so on – and the last thing Cork City want to do is run out at Turner’s Cross with nobody there to cheer the team on.

“But if the government and health advice is that it’s not safe for this to happen yet, then that’s the advice we have to follow. The health of the players, staff, volunteers and the supporters themselves is paramount. This is an unprecedented situation, much bigger than football, and we have to follow the expert advice, the same as in any other industry or walk of life.

“We’re all in this together and we all have to do what we’re told to do.”

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