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FAI seek funding as players raise safety concerns


St Patrick’s Athletic have ruled out games behind closed doors. Photo: Sportsfile

St Patrick’s Athletic have ruled out games behind closed doors. Photo: Sportsfile

St Patrick’s Athletic have ruled out games behind closed doors. Photo: Sportsfile

League of Ireland players have expressed concerns about football being rushed back amid the Covid-19 pandemic and they will insist on safety standards being met before they return to the field of play.

Meanwhile, FAI deputy CEO Niall Quinn says the Association will lean on FIFA to provide funding to help the game here get through the financial pain which will affect football at all levels.

UEFA yesterday announced the early payment of E70milion to clubs across Europe, but as that was compensation for clubs releasing players for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, only Shamrock Rovers, for Jack Byrne, will benefit from Ireland.

UEFA also confirmed that the Women's Euro finals, due to be held in 2021, have been moved to 2022.

Clubs here have been given a deadline of next Monday to work out the costs that would be involved in bringing grounds up to a standard which would facilitate the resumption of the league.

Hopes of a return to action, at some levels, were raised by Wednesday's comments from Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan in which he suggested that club matches could return before large-scale sporting events.

"There is a difference in attending a club match and being one of a dozen people standing on the sideline, and attending a large event with 50,000," he said.

The FAI are still unclear if that relates to games at amateur, underage, Women's National League and other levels outside the SSE Airtricity League.

But players at senior level have already stated their concerns about conditions if and when they resume training and matches.

Players' representative body, the PFAI, held a conference call with their 12-person management committee yesterday, involving current players from the league as well as international Aine O'Gorman.

Clubs are exploring five options to facilitate a return to action, from a start date of June 19 and games played behind closed doors, to the postponement of all activity until September with an extended season running until February, a move which would have huge financial implications for clubs already strapped for cash.

"No one will be going back to train or play unless safety is guaranteed, the players have made that clear," PFAI General Secretary Stephen McGuinness said.

"They have real concerns about the standard of facilities, the standard of testing. Players have kids, some have partners who are pregnant, and they will not go back to play unless there are guarantees on health and safety."

Quinn says the FAI will consider games behind closed doors with live streaming. But St Patrick's Athletic have already ruled that out. "There is no possibility that the income stream that could come from streaming would make it any way viable, so behind-closed-doors football is not going to happen for the League of Ireland," Saints president Tom O'Mahony said.

Players from Pat's have expressed their unhappiness over the manner in which their contracts were ended this week.

Players had assumed that they would be paid by the club for the full month of April, after Wednesday's statement confirming they were laid off, but squad members discovered yesterday that they would only be paid for 21 days of the month.