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Players seek 'compromise' on wages for three-month break

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June 19 is a realistic target, says FAI league director Fran Gavin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

June 19 is a realistic target, says FAI league director Fran Gavin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

June 19 is a realistic target, says FAI league director Fran Gavin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Player representatives in the League of Ireland have called for dialogue and compromise on the payment of player wages after the FAI confirmed a three-month wait for football to resume and also the loss of a full round of matches in the season.

And clubs may now need to renegotiate contracts with their entire playing staff as the season has been extended for six weeks to account for the disruption due to coronavirus, with the substantial loss of revenue from the cancellation of the final round of games, denying clubs gate receipts as well as sponsorship and other match-day revenue.

Officials may look to the example of rugby where IRFU staff, including players, will accept a deferral of part of their wages, on the understanding that back wages will be repaid when the situation returns to normal and talks between the soccer players' body, PFAI, and club officials will continue over the weekend.

Providing that Government advice on Covid-19 conditions allows for a resumption of sporting activities, the League of Ireland will resume on June 19, according to a decision made by the FAI and club officials yesterday.

The Premier Division season, due to finish on October 23, will now carry on until December 4. The FAI Cup final will still be played on the original date of November 1 but the EA Sports Cup, where some clubs had already contested the first round, will be deferred and will not take place.

"There are no certainties around the Covid-19 pandemic but this decision offers us something to aim for. UEFA hope to have European football back up and running by early June at the latest so June 19 is a realistic target for us at this moment in time," FAI league director Fran Gavin said. "Together with the clubs and the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland, we will work together towards this date and continue to liaise with the NLEC and the PFAI to protect our clubs and players as best we can."

Sligo Rovers have already confirmed that they have laid off their entire staff, but it's feared that other clubs will follow suit. Cork City were the next club to make a comment, saying they "are currently reviewing the decision by the FAI and National League Executive Committee (NLEC) and ascertaining the full impact that this will have on the football club".

Apart from Sligo, none of the other nine Premier Division clubs have asked players to take pay cuts or deferrals but there is an acceptance that steps will have to be taken to account for the drop in income for the next three football-free months and the season's extension.

"We hope there can be compromise as this is a national issue," said PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness. "I would hope that clubs would engage in dialogue with us and the players before they make any decisions. We, and the players, realise this is an unprecedented situation. We need clubs to be able to survive and we just ask clubs to be open and transparent with us."

It's expected that some clubs will follow Sligo's example and look to lay off their staff, including players, until they return to training. Other clubs have explored ways of cutting costs while keeping up some payments.

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