Following on from last week’s statement, the Football Association of Ireland have announced that the cessation of all amateur and underage football will be extended until July 20th at the earliest. The organisation say they are in contact constantly with the government and are intent on putting the health of all stakeholders at the forefront of their future plans.
Dr. Alan Byrne, Medical Director of the Football Association stated that a return to training in small groups and opening club grounds will not be advisable when Phase 1 of the government roadmap is officially put into place on May 18th.
“My advice to clubs is not to return to training when we enter Phase One of the Government Roadmap on Monday, May 18, not to open their grounds and pitches, even to groups of four, and not to consider collective training or playing football until the medical evidence suggests otherwise.”
Also, Byrne announced that he will be suggesting the introduction of a pilot scheme from June 8th involving four Airtricity League teams which qualified for Europe.
“Decisive actions by our clubs now, will improve the chances of a safer return to football for everyone. We must take small and deliberate steps before we can allow all football to return. My recommendation to the FAI is to begin with a pilot programme on June 8th for the four SSE Airtricity League teams who have qualified for European football. This will allow us to analyse every step of their journey back to football, beginning with a safe return to training.
“The information we will gather from that pilot programme will be invaluable for all players, at all levels of the game, as we look to establish a safer pathway to a return for all football, one that can be approved by all Government agencies and UEFA. We all want football back in our lives but it is not worth risking one life by rushing to get our game back.”
From June 8th, Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Derry City and Bohemians will be allowed to return to collective training and will be tested regularly for COVID-19 from May 26th.
The four clubs will then take part in a behind closed doors tournament to provide the relevant authorities with more information on how to proceed. Furthermore, all other Airtricity League clubs will then be able to return to training on June 29th in conjunction with Phase 3 of the Government roadmap.
Under Phase 4 of the Government guidelines, amateur and underage clubs can return to training programmes on July 20th but will not be permitted to return to collective training until Phase 5 of the roadmap. A pilot scheme for adult amateur and underage football will be run from August 14th to August 28th.
Winter leagues who wish to finish the 2019/2020 season upon a return to football in August, will have to submit their request to the FAI by June 15th. Winter Leagues who do not wish to finish the 2019/2020 season can begin a new campaign on October 16th.
Regional, provincial and national competitions from 2019/2020 can return via FAI approval from August 28th. The Limerick District League Committee recently contacted clubs to ask for their preference on whether to complete the 2019/2020 season or to finish it now with no promotion or relegation. There were at least 9 league games left for most clubs in the season as well as several cups to be decided.
As well as Airtricity League clubs, Women’s National League side Peamount United will be giving special dispensation to return due to their involvment in the UEFA Champions League and once dates are revealed for the start of the competition, a decision will be made on when to allow Peamount return to training.
Dr. Alan Byrne has made it clear that all decisions are subject to change depending on the feedback from the aforementioned pilot schemes as well as Government changes to the roadmap.