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FAI hope to deliver LOI clarity next week

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(stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

The FAI are hopeful that clarity on the protracted debate around the proposed return of the League of Ireland can be delivered late next week.

And the scenarios for what would happen if just one or two clubs remain opposed to a comeback are set to form a key part of the build-up to a decision.

As it stands, the FAI still have work to do to win over a rump of clubs that remain to be convinced about the viability of a behind closed doors comeback.

However, the possibility that some spectators may be allowed to attend fixtures later in the year and positive FAI noises about external support has raised the belief that an improved compensation package can be put on the table for consideration next Thursday.

There was a backlash when the prospect of some clubs pressing ahead with a 2020 season while others opted out was raised last month. It's a potential scenario that has refused to go away, even though it has never been tabled formally in any discussions.

That solution would raise issues about relegation and the relevance of the First Division, but FAI officials remain keen to get football back and will look at options if it transpires that opposition to resuming the season consists of just a small minority.

The subject was raised from the floor in a conference call between league managers and interim CEO Gary Owens yesterday.

Waterford’s position has come under scrutiny given that their owner Lee Power’s future with the club is uncertain.

Power has been engaged in a legal case around the ownership of Swindon Town, while Blues manager Alan Reynolds is in advanced talks with Dundalk about joining as assistant boss to Vinny Perth.

As it stands, the plan is for the Premier Division season to resume in mid-August at neutral venues with a further 13 games played on top of the five that have already been completed.

However, there is some optimism that a restricted number of spectators could subsequently be allowed into grounds and that may be factored into any decisions that are taken.

Naturally, that would impact on the financial picture as sceptical clubs had based concerns around the expectation no fans would be allowed into stadiums for the rest of 2020.

But progress in the public health picture could change that with the FAI in contact with Government and HSE officials.

The FAI are encouraged that the second batch of tests for Covid-19 on players at the four European participants have all come back negative.

Bohemians, Derry City, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers are due to train on Monday as they build up towards their four-team tournament in July which is now set to take place in Tallaght Stadium rather than the Aviva.

On Wednesday, Bohemians admitted that a training session in a public park, in accordance with HSE guidelines but contrary to advice from the FAI’s Medical Director, was an “error”.

It’s understood that the subject was raised in the managers meeting where Bohs boss Keith Long was present with senior FAI officials unimpressed, although the association last night released a statement accepting an apology from the club.

A Bohemians spokesperson, in the statement released by the FAI, said: “As a club, we apologise to the FAI and to all our fellow stakeholders for any offence caused.”

Meanwhile, Athlone Town have called on FAI Senior Council member Nixon Morton to withdraw his letter to FIFA and UEFA raising concerns about the influence of ‘outside forces’ in the power structure of the FAI