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Confirmed: Ireland's Euro 2020 playoff with Slovakia scheduled for October 8

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Stephen Kenny's Ireland side could take on Slovakia in their Euro 2020 playoff on October 7. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny's Ireland side could take on Slovakia in their Euro 2020 playoff on October 7. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Kenny's Ireland side could take on Slovakia in their Euro 2020 playoff on October 7. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny has expressed his satisfaction with confirmation that October's crunch Euro 2020 playoff semi final with Slovakia will be his third game in charge of Ireland and not his first.

The new Ireland boss will get to use September's UEFA Nations League double-header with Bulgaria and Finland to spend time with the players ahead of the Bratislava shootout on Thursday October 8.

The Slovakia game has been added to the start of the October international window.

And the winners of that game will take on either Bosnia Herzegovina or Northern Ireland a month later on Thursday November 12.

UEFA will consult with the local authorities in each country to determine if the fixtures will be behind closed doors affairs.

"I am pleased that we will get two competitive games in September to help us in our preparations before Slovakia," said Kenny.

"These UEFA Nations League games are (also) very important games in terms of World Cup rankings and potential play-off."

The calendar for the rest of the year was agreed by UEFA's Executive Committee this morning, where it was also confirmed that the League of Ireland's four European contenders face one-off ties when their campaign kicks off in mid-August.

UEFA also announced that all 12 host cities have retained their status for the European Championships which was pushed back due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The dates for the 2021 games are identical to the 2020 version, which is relevant for those ticket holders for the fixtures in Dublin.

The Euro 2020 playoffs function as the first game in international triple-headers in October and November.

The Bratislava game will be in the same window as a home game with Wales and a trip to take on the Finns.

If Ireland can get past Slovakia, they would travel to face the winner of the Bosnia and Northern Ireland encounter to kick off the November gathering.

Kenny's charges are due to travel to Wales and host Bulgaria in that window.

The commercial value of the Nations League for centralised TV contracts meant that UEFA were always keen to save those fixtures but the dates of individual matches will have to be tweaked with details expected later today.

The League of Ireland's European quartet had to suffer through speculation about where their games stood, but they will all get a chance to play.

However, the first three qualifying rounds in the Champions League and Europa League are set to be one-legged affairs with the draw determining who gets home advantage.

Dundalk enter the Champions League, with their first round tie on August 18 or August 19.

Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and Bohemians will be in the Europa League draw and will wait until August 27 for their opening encounter.

Vinny Perth's Dundalk side will be seeded in their draw, and also have a backdoor route into the Europa League qualifiers if they lose out.

A strict regionalisation is not on the cards, although UEFA do tend to apply geographical considerations to pots when they are finalising the draw procedure.

UEFA's ability to finish the 2019/20 Champions League and Europa League competitions, and the anticipation the 2020/21 campaigns should proceed unaffected from a broadcast perspective, has removed viable concerns that prize money for the qualifying rounds would be slashed.

But the organisers are exploring avenues to compensate sides who inherit the extra expense of being drawn away for one-off fixtures so the financial implications of the change to the format will have to be confirmed in the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the goalposts have moved for the Ireland U21 side.

After strong results under Kenny, they are top of their Euros qualifying group heading into the final stretch of matches but second placed Italy have two games in hand.

The original pre-Covid plan was that the group winners and the best runner up would make the final tournament in Slovenia and Hungary automatically with the other second placed sides entering the playoff.

But UEFA have now decided to mix things up and split the finals competition into two periods in 2021, which will have implications for new boss Jim Crawford.

Now, the nine group winners and the five best runners up will go into a 16 team first phase (four groups of four) in Slovenia in March 2021 along with the host nations.

The top two in each group will proceed to the knockout stage which will be played out between May 31 and June 6, 2021.

Crawford's team will now have to monitor the situation in other groups closely if they are unable to edge out the Italians.

Online Editors