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Ambiguity is adding extra stress to LOI clubs, players

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'News from UEFA on Monday that a key meeting of UEFA's Executive Committee has been delayed for three weeks also means a delay in any update on when the four Irish clubs due to play in European competition this summer can expect to see a draw or schedule, let alone matches.' (stock photo)

'News from UEFA on Monday that a key meeting of UEFA's Executive Committee has been delayed for three weeks also means a delay in any update on when the four Irish clubs due to play in European competition this summer can expect to see a draw or schedule, let alone matches.' (stock photo)

'News from UEFA on Monday that a key meeting of UEFA's Executive Committee has been delayed for three weeks also means a delay in any update on when the four Irish clubs due to play in European competition this summer can expect to see a draw or schedule, let alone matches.' (stock photo)

The top flight in Estonia returned last night with Kuressaare FC playing at home to Nomme Kalju, their league back on the field after

Playing behind closed doors was not a big issue for Kuressaare, as only 140 punters paid in to their last league game.

But the fact that another European league is up and running, while the League of Ireland remains off limits, is just another sign of how far sport in this country has to go before it can catch up with its continental cousins.

News from UEFA on Monday that a key meeting of UEFA's Executive Committee has been delayed for three weeks also means a delay in any update on when the four Irish clubs due to play in European competition this summer can expect to see a draw or schedule, let alone matches.

But another meeting in Ireland, between the FAI and the body which acts on behalf of clubs, the National League Executive Committee, also ended without resolution, the FAI pleading for more time before they can disclose the details of a financial package needed to get football going again.

Concerns

Players were able to put questions, and concerns, to the FAI's Medical Director, Dr Alan Byrne, via Zoom, yesterday. Byrne has said this week that he understands the eagerness for all involved in the game to get back to playing but he also stressed the need for patience.

Players here have concerns but so do clubs and half of the teams in the top flight in Ireland remain stuck between being negative and dubious about the prospect of playing football again, some clubs keen to just write off 2020 and resume in 2021, so there's a clear split between five teams (the four due to play in Europe plus Shelbourne) and the rest.

The doubters feel that playing matches, with no fans present and only in four selected, deep-cleaned stadiums, is unfeasible, and the others who have their eyes on European action in July or August maintain that attempting to return at some point in 2020 has to be tried.

In meetings to date, the FAI have been unable to give clubs the financial details to suggest that we could see the LOI back, suiting clubs like Sligo Rovers, St Patrick's Athletic and Finn Harps who maintain it can't happen.