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Slovakia playoff on back burner as UEFA look for way out of this

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WAITING GAME: A sign advertising the now postponed Euro 2020 outside a closed-down pub in York, England. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

WAITING GAME: A sign advertising the now postponed Euro 2020 outside a closed-down pub in York, England. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

WAITING GAME: A sign advertising the now postponed Euro 2020 outside a closed-down pub in York, England. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Any Irish fans hoping for the kind of white smoke from a UEFA conference call today will allow them to finally save the date and book their flights to Bratislava for that Euro 2020 playoff will be sorely disappointed.

European football's power brokers have a list of priorities of how to cope with the pandemic and the affect it's had on football.

Completing the major leagues of Europe, is vital, so too is concluding this season's Champions League and Europa League competitions.

Ireland's tussle with Slovakia and then Bosnia or Northern Ireland (results permitting) is way down that list of priorities.

The date for that game means a lot to Mick McCarthy and Stephen Kenny and their respective backroom staffs.

Putting the fixture on the long finger, to be played on some undefined date in September or October, will be of interest to veterans like Glenn Whelan and Shane Long.

Having studied for two weeks now the implications of Covid-19 on the game in Europe, UEFA's decision-makers will gather senior officials from all 55 UEFA member states on a conference call today to try and set a path out of the crisis and back to football.

FAI officials Gary Owens and Gerry McAnaney will listen in intently on behalf of the association here, as what UEFA have to say will impact the game at all levels, from schoolboys/girls being allowed to train again, to the League of Ireland resuming.

It also affects the internationals teams right through to Euro 2020 and the UEFA Nations League campaign which was due to start in September but may now have to be delayed to account for the Euro 2020 playoffs.

The four League of Ireland clubs due to play in European competition next summer, having mentally banked the income they are due from UEFA, will be very eager to know if, and when, their games in the preliminary rounds of next season's Champions League/Europa League, will be played.

Across the continent, some clubs have already seen the sharp impact of the crisis.

Swiss side FC Sion effectively sacked nine players, including ex-Arsenal man Alex Song, after the squad refused to accept pay cuts imposed on them.

Folded

Slovakian outfit Zilina, who made the Champions League group stages 10 years ago, have more or less folded. And more will go under.

On St Patrick's Day, UEFA established two committees: one to focus on scheduling issues to get this season's domestic leagues and UEFA competitions completed, while the second committee looked at broader issues of economic and regulatory/contractual matters.

This would look at topics like transfer windows, suspensions, transfer embargos. What about players who have signed pre-contracts, such as Ajax star Hakim Ziyech, due to join Chelsea on July 1?

Who pays his €100,000 a week wage if football is indefinitely off?

A worry is that the global situation is worse today than when the UEFA committee began work last month and an early hope to have European football, leagues and UEFA cups, wrapped up by June 30, is impossible.

European football needs to solve the biggest crisis it's ever faced, and Slovakia v Ireland is not a priority.