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FAI in wage push

Negotiation on contracts in bid to save the season

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League of Ireland games could be staged at the Aviva: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

League of Ireland games could be staged at the Aviva: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

League of Ireland games could be staged at the Aviva: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The FAI are set to ask League of Ireland players and staff if they are willing to take a collective pay cut in order to convince clubs to return to football.

Abbotstown officials are prepared to go down that route as part of their attempts to save the 2020 season if the health authorities give the all-clear for a resumption from August.

And it's understood there will be willingness from the players side to engage if it was the last hurdle that needed to be crossed.

The FAI have work to do to reach that point after presenting provisional details of costs and compensation to clubs on Thursday.

Ultimately, it involves the FAI covering medical costs and the production for streaming all remaining games - with the combined price estimated at around €1.6m - and also distributing compensation in the region of €1.1m to be divided amongst the 19 clubs to offset the loss of income.

Clubs were hoping for a larger guaranteed pot on the basis of projections they submitted around expect ed earnings if it was business as usual.

The FAI would contend that the Covid-19 crisis will hurt clubs whatever option they choose as scrapping the season would leave them open to owing money to players - the primary expense. 

Therefore, the hope is that state guarantees on the retention of wage support will cover 70 per cent of pay packets for the duration of the season, and agreements with players and staff could bring wage bills down by up to 15 per cent leaving most clubs paying 15 per cent of the budgeted salaries.

FAI officials remain in talks with potential streaming partners and have argued to clubs that revenue from that source could further eat into the financial deficit. It’s believed that companies canvassed by the FAI are looking to spend on marketing to attract customers rather than paying a fixed amount whereas league officials would prefer more certainty.

Therefore, the FAI are looking at further lowering fixed costs, feeling that every effort should be made to avoid a lengthy stoppage with clarity needed before the month is out.

Pay talks would be complicated by the fact that players who have been laid off by clubs consider that a wage deferral and would want that issue resolved before thrashing out another agreement. It would present case by case challenges before a collective deal could be thrashed out.

Clubs would also have to agree on the length of a restarted season. With five games already played, the options are to play two rounds (13 more games for 18 in total) or three rounds (22 more games). That would impact on streaming potential.

Last night, the FAI confirmed that the four European representatives will be used in a pilot scheme for a return to football at all levels. The FAI’s Dr Alan Byrne has been appointed to Sport Ireland’s Advisory Group and is advising that Dundalk, Bohemians, Derry and Shamrock Rovers can return to collective training on June 8 with a view to playing their tournament from July 20. They will undergo regular Covid-19 testing from May 26.

Other League of Ireland clubs will not be allowed to train together until June 29 while all other affiliates must wait until July 20 to begin returning to training plans with the exception of Women’s National League champions Peamount United pending the confirmation of their Champions League schedule.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Bundesliga this weekend as it becomes the first major league to return to action, with Jadon Sancho-inspired Borussia Dortmund’s clash with rivals Schalke providing a mouth-watering restart.

After 66 days suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the top flight will return alongside 2. Bundesliga today in front of empty stands and millions of extra viewers glued to televisions across the world.

For those starved of their football fix, the Bundesliga will be a welcome distraction at a time of unease after the German Football League (DFL) managed to end a suspension that continues elsewhere across Europe.

Rigorous hygiene protocols and regular testing have provided the platform for a return to action behind closed doors, with the derby encounter between title-chasing Dortmund and out-of-sorts Schalke the pick of the matchday 26 fixtures.

A heavily-restricted group of around 300 essential staff will be in attendance at BVB’s mammoth home as the weekend fixtures gets under way, bringing plenty of peculiarities on top of the pressure in the 96th Revierderby.

“It’s a strange situation, it’s different,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said. “And especially now, to play a derby without fans: there’s no point in denying that our hearts are bleeding.

“I don’t even know if it ever happened in the history of the derby that we played against Schalke without fans. But it is how it is.

“That is the best case in the moment. What we do need, now that our fans won’t be there, is more self-motivation and self-dynamics in order to be successful on Saturday.”

England international Sancho is set to start for a Dortmund side spearheaded by Erling Braut Haaland today, when they can cut perennial champions Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga to a point, temporarily at least.

Schalke boast Wales flyer Rabbi Matondo and Jonjoe Kenny, impressing on loan from Everton, and are looking to end a seven-match winless run that they took into the suspension.