England summer visit never a runner
WHILE UK sources are adamant there will be no friendly encounter between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium in 2011, the FAI last night said they expect to make an announcement in the next month.
An Abbotstown statement said they are 'in discussions with the English FA about a possible friendly match in Dublin' but ruled out the June 8 date mentioned in reports yesterday.
England are free on that date as they are cancelling a trip to Thailand for a match that was arranged on the basis of a World Cup 2018 vote they didn't actually receive.
Meanwhile, Ireland have no game scheduled for that international date -- they play a hugely significant Euro 2012 qualifier in Macedonia on June 4, a tie that is preceded by two Carling Four Nations Tournament games in the renovated Lansdowne Road.
While the FAI naturally seized on the gap in the English schedule left by the shelving of the Thai plans, the odds of arranging a summer date are stacked against them.
1 NATIONS CUP DILEMMA
Considering the FAI are keen to push the Four Nations Tournament in 2011, the competition would be completely undermined by the prospect of England coming to town.
The elephant in the room at the launch of the competition was the absence of England from the fray.
Nevertheless, the other associations are keen to push on and market the tournament as a contest where bragging rights are at stake.
Ireland play Wales in February, and are set to take on Northern Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in May. Encouraging people to come to those games on the basis of local rivalry -- when the neighbours that everyone wants to beat are coming a few weeks later -- would be a hard sell.
Packaging tickets is always a possibility, but that's a risky strategy and hasn't exactly worked well for the Abbotstown authorities in recent times. Carling would have to be consulted.
2 LENGTH OF SEASON
While the prospect of a game with England should be attractive to any Irish pro, another date on the summer calendar would be extremely unpopular. An international gathering at the end of a long season can stretch the limbs and shorten the summer holidays.
Giovanni Trapattoni wants to arrange a training camp abroad and possibly a friendly or two as part of it before the Northern Ireland and Scotland games and then the qualifier in Skopje. Throwing another game into the mix would make it a marathon session.
Nevertheless, there's no guarantee that Trap will get to go anywhere more exotic than Malahide again this year due to the FAI's pressing financial concerns.
You can be sure that the top English clubs would be less than enthused about their stars continuing on, which means there'd be a possibility that the visitors would arrive in town without a host of marquee names.
3 ENGLAND CALL THE SHOTS
This is the bottom line. The FAI are clearly desperate to entertain Fabio Capello and co, but the English FA have no shortage of offers from around the world.
Ultimately, they choose what suits them. A more plausible time for an Ireland-England clash would be in August or November when friendlies are shoved into the middle of two club weekends and the short distance would be a major plus. However, other commitments would need to be juggled to make it possible in 2011. A 2012 showdown appears to present a more feasible outcome.
Ironically enough, England are still looking for opponents for a friendly in February. Argentina have pulled out of a scheduled game in Copenhagen. Alas, Ireland are tied into the Four Nations showdown with Wales, a far less lucrative endeavour.