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Flights for fans and fights over contracts - what Euros delay means for Irish football

UEFA hope to run the Euro 2020 play-offs this June but they, and the FAI, have some very big and unpopular decisions to make

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Sign of the times: A Euro 2020 countdown clock is still ticking away on a Dublin City Council office building on Palace Street towards an incorrect date. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sign of the times: A Euro 2020 countdown clock is still ticking away on a Dublin City Council office building on Palace Street towards an incorrect date. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Sign of the times: A Euro 2020 countdown clock is still ticking away on a Dublin City Council office building on Palace Street towards an incorrect date. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

So after all that, Euro 2020 is back on?

Well, we now know two things. First, UEFA have confirmed their plan to postpone the Euro 2020 finals for 12 months and the play-offs, due to be played next Thursday and Monday week, will be contested in June.

What about the Champions League, Europa League and the domestic leagues for this season?

The plan is to restart football in mid-April, complete all current competitions before the end of June, with Champions League and Europa League final games played at the end of June.

That would allow UEFA to start qualification in July for next season's Champions League/Europa Leagues, a vital source of revenue. But that all depends on domestic football being able to resume soon, something that's far from guaranteed.

But the Green Army can get ready to invade Slovakia again?

If the match goes ahead. UEFA and the Slovakian FA can make all the plans they want but the status of Covid-19 by June, and the stance of the government in Bratislava, will dictate that.

The Slovak government in the last two weeks implemented a host of measures (flight cancellations, airport closures, the sealing of the border, a ban on all foreign visitors) that were simply unthinkable when the play-off draw was made and ultimately the Bratislava government, not the FAI or UEFA, will decide if the game is played.

But the fans' tickets are ok?

The 2,200 tickets sold to Ireland fans remain valid for the play-off.

What about getting there?

That's more tricky. Fans who booked on package trips with travel agents will be fine but supporters who did a DIY trip with Ryanair had their flights cancelled last week and were offered refunds so they will need to rebook.

What about the finals? Are tickets still valid?

Yes, UEFA have simply rescheduled for 12 months down the line, same venues, same format.

If I bought tickets for the finals but am now unsure, can I cancel?

Yes, and it's likely that many will do so and look for a refund. If you are among the tens of thousands of childcare, hospitality or retail workers currently out of work, a refund for those €100-a-head tickets you bought last year could be very welcome in these troubled times. UEFA said they will issue details on a refund process "within the next month".

What happens to the other internationals due to be played soon?

Wait and see. UEFA said on Tuesday that "all other UEFA competitions are on hold until further notice" so the U-21 qualifiers this month and the Women's Euro qualifier in Germany next month are uncertain.

Who will manage Ireland in the June play-off, assuming it goes ahead?

Mick McCarthy.

And if Ireland win, he stays on for the finals?

That's up to the FAI but it's a difficult one. Contrary to what was initially assumed, McCarthy's contract as Ireland boss does not formally end when Ireland's interest in Euro 2020 is over, but on July 31, 2020, when Stephen Kenny takes over.

Would logic not suggest that McCarthy stays on to finish what he started, if the team have qualified?

Logic is not part of a written contract. The FAI could assemble their key staff, with McCarthy and Kenny, for a meeting and suggest that Kenny stays on with the U-21 team and allows McCarthy remain as senior boss if the team qualify in June: that would also remove the problem for the FAI of having to replace Kenny as U-21 manager in August, but it's hard to see Kenny agreeing to that.

If Euro 2020 is now moved to 2021, where does that leave the Women's Euros finals (in England) and men's U-21 finals (Italy)?

The Women's Euros (July 7 to August 1) and U-21s (June 9 to 26) will have to be moved. The 2020/21 Nations League finals (June 2-6. 2021) will also have to go.

Football-wise, is the delay until June any help to McCarthy?

Current injury victims Seamus Coleman, Enda Stevens and James McClean all have time to recover but by the time June comes around, McCarthy's players (like those in every national team squad) could well be fatigued after having to squeeze rescheduled games into an already-busy calendar, especially for players likely to be in club play-offs. But Slovakia were due to be without key goalkeeper Martin Dubravka next week and he should be fit in June.

And what about the finals if Ireland qualify?

The squad looked tired and uninspiring for much of the qualification process but the prospect of Troy Parrott, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly, Jayson Molumby and Dara O'Shea all going to a finals with an extra 12 months' experience under their belts is exciting.

Irish Independent