How coronavirus affects League of Ireland

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26 October 2019; Só Hotel Group owner Pat McDonagh presents the trophy to Peamount United captain Áine O'Gorman following the Só Hotels Women’s National League match between Peamount United and Cork City at PRL Park in Greenogue, Co Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

With coronavirus in the air, everyone is taking precautions to stay healthy and not to infect others. The same can be said about the FAI and League of Ireland.

Last Wednesday League of Ireland and Women’s National League have been issued with a list of guidelines, aimed at helping clubs protect individuals attending games in relation to the coronavirus outbreak.

For a while, there shouldn’t be any handshakes, high fives, fist pumps, chest bumps, etc between players, coaches, and officials. Players should also avoid signing autographs and posing for photographs with fans.

But that isn’t as detrimental to fans as the possible football season shutdown. 

The fans will have to miss the Euro 2020 play-off between the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia, which will be played behind closed doors in Bratislava on March 26. Still, the fans can check the results at sites like Xscores.

And what’s more – the League of Ireland is postponed until April 3.

The last two games of series 3 St. Patrick’s Athletic vs Derry City and Finn Harps vs Shelbourne were postponed for an indefinite period. The same is with the last game of series 4 Sligo Rovers vs Waterford and all the games in series 6, 7 and 8.

Still, depending on the future situation more games could be postponed. Currently, a six-man task force, which includes two representatives each from the NLEC, the PFAI and the FAI, is monitoring news on coronavirus pandemic and how the Irish government and the World Health Organization reacts to it.

But coronavirus lockdown didn’t affect only the dates of games, but some club training.

Clubs that are using communal facilities and gyms as training bases are being encouraged to move elsewhere to minimize the risk of getting infected. Clubs like Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers that own their own training grounds and gyms can keep on following their usual routine. 

Also currently FAI is assessing club finances and their needs during the Covid-19 crisis and based on that affiliation fees might be dropped in the SSE Airtricity League to help out cash-strapped clubs.

But on Sunday Drogheda suspended payments of wages and expenses since they aren’t sure football will return after a three-week break and if the club pays the players now when they aren’t training, they won’t be able to pay players at the end of the season. 

And who knows – other clubs might follow Drogheda. 

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