LOI season in serious peril

Shane Ross

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI are running out of time to come up with a conclusion to save the 2020 League of Ireland season after telling clubs more talks were required before they could present firm financial figures.

And it's understood that the lack of certainty about external support has resulted in the four European qualifiers being asked to consider if they would give up some of their UEFA money and/or domestic prize money to help other clubs who feel that restarting isn't viable for them.

The idea was floated informally in the course of an eventful day which culminated with Dáil questions on FAI reform with Minister for Sport Shane Ross (inset) defending the new FAI Board and denying he had a role in recruiting new chair Roy Barrett.

Questions about the lack of progress in attempts to restart the league were also raised with Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews, a Shamrock Rovers fan, stating that his understanding was that there was a sense of 'despondency' amongst clubs following the much-anticipated FAI meeting with clubs.

This was verified by multiple sources who were surprised when the FAI indicated they weren't yet in a position to deliver the final financial package for consideration.

With no guarantees on mooted relief from FIFA and talks ongoing with Government about fresh support - Ross did say he would be "amazed" if the LOI wasn't factored into a broader national compensation plan - the FAI could only float redirecting existing funding streams with a view to a breakthrough.

It is anticipated restricted crowds at games will be possible from September, but that is muddying the waters as it's only a provisional plan.