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Behind closed doors, 25% stadium capacity and a December finish - Irish football consider options to resume season

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The Dundalk squad celebrate their 2019 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title win at Oriel Park last October. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Dundalk squad celebrate their 2019 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title win at Oriel Park last October. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The Dundalk squad celebrate their 2019 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title win at Oriel Park last October. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Games behind closed doors or with reduced stadium capacity are being considered by the FAI in order to complete the League of Ireland season.

With the government announcing a ban on mass gatherings of over 5,000 people until September, questions emerged about whether professional sports in Ireland can return at some stage over the summer if teams can ensure social distancing in the stadium.

The FAI released a statement today outlining a list of options that are being considered in conjunction with the National League Executive Committee as they look to plan a potential return to action.

The statement said: "Delegates from the FAI and the NLEC discussed the various options at length, including but not restricted to the following:

  • A resumption for the SSE Airtricity League behind closed doors on June 19th with the season to end no later than the end of December, a ‘behind closed doors’ policy to operate as long as HSE Guidelines recommend.
  • A resumption as planned on June 19th with stadium restrictions in line with HSE Guidelines including ‘behind closed doors’ and reduced capacity at 25% or 50%, the season to run until the end of December.
  • A resumption in July or August, based on Government advice and HSE guidelines.
  • A deferral of all National League activity until September with a reduced fixture programme season to run until the end of December.
  • A resumption of National League football in September with a full fixture programme season to run until the end of February 2021."

The FAI added that they will look to make a recommendation about how to proceed before a Government announcement on May 5th regarding any extension to the current lockdown. A financial analysis will also be conducted 'to examine all financial support options available if games are played behind closed doors, including income from live streaming and potential FIFA support.'

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