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State support query for clubs as FAI seek to finalise League options


Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Photocall/PA

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Photocall/PA

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Photocall/PA

The FAI have indicated to stakeholders that they will have a return-to-play proposal ready by next Tuesday and then leave a final decision on whether to come back in 2020 to the clubs.

It's understood that the Government will be asked if guarantees that a version of the wage subsidy scheme - or some other form of support - can remain in place for the League of Ireland even if games resume behind closed doors or with limited attendances.

The state support for businesses affected by Covid-19 runs until June but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it will be extended.

Due to a fall in turnover, LOI clubs should continue to be eligible but Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has hinted that tweaks or cuts to the scheme are inevitable.

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The GAA are looking for additional state assistance to cover losses, and the FAI are expected to seek assurances to avoid a scenario where the LOI is vulnerable to a cessation of the wage support.

Support FAI officials have been pressed by sceptical clubs for detail on support from FIFA and any other sources of income that could ease concerns shared by the majority about the feasibility of a comeback.

They have not provided answers but, in response to calls for clarity, the Covid-19 steering group were told clubs will be given facts and figures to consider by Tuesday.

Clubs have submitted estimates of revenue shortfalls based on closed-doors games and it's expected that the final FAI proposal will have a risk element attached - strong third-party backing will be needed to reduce the gap. A clear majority of the 19 clubs would have to green-light the idea.

Prior to that, the national sporting bodies will speak with the HSE on Friday to confirm the boxes which must be ticked for games to be permitted in August - as laid out in the state's roadmap.

There are soundings that Government officials view a July mini-tournament for the four European qualifiers in the Aviva as a pilot for how team sports can return.

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