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League of Ireland players to grill Niall Quinn over return-to-play impasse

Interim FAI CEO faces questions arising from slow progress in attempts to convince clubs

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Niall Quinn will meet with a delegation of League of Ireland players this Friday to discuss their concerns around the delay in finalising a plan for a return to football. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Niall Quinn will meet with a delegation of League of Ireland players this Friday to discuss their concerns around the delay in finalising a plan for a return to football. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Niall Quinn will meet with a delegation of League of Ireland players this Friday to discuss their concerns around the delay in finalising a plan for a return to football. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Niall Quinn will meet with a delegation of League of Ireland players this Friday to discuss their concerns around the delay in finalising a plan for a return to football.

The fate of the 2020 season remains undecided with clubs split on a comeback even though players from the four European participants underwent Covid-19 testing this week as the first step towards a resumption.

A poll of professional players in the league showed that 87 per cent favour a return this summer but the onus remains on the FAI to put a financial package together that allays the fears of struggling Premier Division sides who don't feel they can justify playing games without paying spectators.

Abbotstown officials have asked for more time and it now seems likely that decisions will be made around UEFA's big meeting on June 17 that will lay out calendar plans.

But players want to know what is going on and off the back of a request from their representatives, the PFAI, interim deputy CEO Quinn has agreed to a conference call later this week with members of the union's committee and appointed delegates at the respective clubs.

He will be tackled by players who will argue that the uncertainty is leaving them in limbo as they need to know if they should be seeking alternative employment for the rest of the year.

Central to the FAI's plans to bring the league back will be the retention of the Government wage subsidy but their request will be tied up with the national discussion in that area.

The Irish Independent detailed earlier this month that the FAI are expected to explore if some kind of collective pay cut would help the situation but this is yet to be formally raised and would be met by opposition given that a number of players have already taken cuts or been temporarily laid off.

Players at the European-qualified clubs - Bohemians, Derry, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers - do have games to work towards with a tournament pencilled in for July 20 as preparation for their battles with overseas opposition.

Doubts have been expressed about whether the lucrative early stage qualifiers can take place due to fears around travel but UEFA are still weighing up scenarios.

The prospect of one-legged ties and the regionalisation of the draw to limit the length of trips is a scenario that is very much in the mix for the clubs.

However, it's an evolving situation and the FAI are working off the impression that UEFA will be looking at the health picture and guidelines in each country before deciding they can host games.

Irish Independent