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LOI fans split on behind closed doors games but big majority back engagement with supporters' groups on plan

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Support structures: Bohemians supporters queue for tickets for last year's FAI Cup semi-final. Most League of Ireland clubs are heavily reliant on crowds as a revenue stream. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Support structures: Bohemians supporters queue for tickets for last year's FAI Cup semi-final. Most League of Ireland clubs are heavily reliant on crowds as a revenue stream. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Support structures: Bohemians supporters queue for tickets for last year's FAI Cup semi-final. Most League of Ireland clubs are heavily reliant on crowds as a revenue stream. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Irish football fans are split over whether to resume the League of Ireland behind closed doors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey.

And in a poll of 857 fans, carried out by the Irish Supporters Network, a small majority said there should be no free access to streaming of live games in the league for club members or season ticket holders while there was also strong support for away fans being banned from matches if limited attendances are permitted.

Asked if they support the suggested ‘Behind Closed Doors’ option as a way of resuming the SSE Airtricity League, 52.7% of participants said they were in favour with 47.3% against the idea.

There was also little to divide supporters on the subject of who should have access to streaming, if the league does resume behind closed doors. A third (33.5%) said they preferred "a Fully Paid streaming service where everyone pays a fee" but 31.1% of respondents said that streaming should be available to particular categories of home fans such as club members or season ticket holders who have already paid for the season.

A total of 27.3% stated a preference for the option "If it’s not safe for supporters, it’s not safe for anyone else" with the remaining 8..7% stating a preference for a lottery-type system that would allow limited number of fans to attend while maintaining social distancing at the ground.

When asked if away fans should be kept out of grounds as long as social distancing rules were in place, a majority (65%) agreed while a majority of 63% also said that their club had not engaged with supporters on the issue of access to games.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (81.5%) were in favour of supporters being involved at a national level with the ongoing planning and discussions.

Online Editors