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UEFA set to delay Dublin European Championships call but Ireland vulnerable to change of plan

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is on the verge of naming a new coach to replace Damien Duff. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is on the verge of naming a new coach to replace Damien Duff. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is on the verge of naming a new coach to replace Damien Duff. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

UEFA are prepared to wait until April to make a final call on the plan for this summer’s European Championships, but it’s unlikely to improve Ireland’s fading prospects of staging games.

The governing body had initially indicated they would make a decision early in March whether they should proceed with plans to host the competition across 12 cities.

They have now indicated it will be April before the picture clears up – they will need it all wrapped up before Congress on April 20 – but FAI sources concede that Dublin will be vulnerable to any reduction in the scope of the competition, seeing as closed-doors sport looks set to be the reality here for the foreseeable future.

By contrast, other host nations, including England, expect stadiums to be open by June.

Losing three games and a round-of-16 tie would be a blow but the bid between the FAI, Dublin City Council and government was largely sold on the boost to the economy from travelling supporters and the parties have effectively given up on that coming to pass already.

The FAI would receive a bonus for the successful staging of the games here, but UEFA are paying for the special project team that is gearing towards the summer so they are the party that will take the financial hit from any revision in the plan.

UEFA have sought to play down reports that Britain could stage the entire finals and publicly the organisers continue to make positive noises, with their Covid chief Dr Daniel Koch stating yesterday that they will remain flexible for another month.

He said he envisaged stadiums being over 30pc capacity in certain countries but that is at odds with Irish progress and with no home involvement – a scenario that would have opened up significant earning potential for the FAI – the Euros are unlikely to be the centrepiece of any lobby to open up grounds.

Meanwhile, Stephen Kenny is close to announcing a replacement for Damien Duff. Lee Carsley, John O’Shea and Mark Kennedy have been linked with the gig but the chosen candidate is understood to be a new face who has not featured in speculation around the post. 

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