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FAI swimming against tide: Clubs unconvinced by closed door approach

 

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SHUT DOWN: Dalymount Park under lock and key during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SHUT DOWN: Dalymount Park under lock and key during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

SHUT DOWN: Dalymount Park under lock and key during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The FAI are expected to present cash projections on Friday in an attempt to persuade sceptical clubs that closed doors football can work in the League of Ireland.

But the plan will not be able to move forward unless doubters are won over with an initial draft document failing to quell concerns about the viability of a return to action under a number of headings.

Leading FAI officials want clubs to wait until they are presented with all of the financial information before dismissing the idea out of hand - although it is unclear if details of vital support from FIFA will be available by the end of this week.

Their guaranteed backing is essential for the closed doors concept to get off the ground with the FAI now in possession of data from clubs detailing the revenue losses they would suffer from playing games minus spectators.

The cumulative figure will run into millions of euro. Public health officials would hold the power of veto over any proposals.

The expectation that government will retain the majority of current restrictions for another fortnight means that all football timelines - including ambitious plans for a June 19 restart - will be kicked back accordingly.

In their draft document, the FAI have outlined guidelines that they would envisage being in place for a return to training. It would be a further four to six weeks before games kicked off.

Players would have to record their temperature before leaving home for every training session, while they would have to look after their own gear and avoid car pooling. At the outset, players would only be allowed to train in groups of no more than five and contact, indoor meetings and the use of GPS gear would be forbidden.

Teams taking two buses to long distance away games, players showering one at a time after every match, and the staggered departure of participants from dressing rooms are just some of the social distancing friendly recommendations proposed for matchday itself.

Premier Division sides St Patrick's Athletic and Finn Harps have vocally opposed the FAI plan, and club officials around the league remain unconvinced that this scenario is workable.

Sources at a number of clubs detailed how the FAI draft document contained elements which hadn't factored into their costings - a deep clean of stadiums on match day and regulations around the maintenance of training facilities would add to the expense list.

Clubs will request more information on how they are expected to satisfy criteria - while reservations linger over the suitability of a number of stadiums and the safety and insurance issues around games themselves.