The Corona Virus is set to have a huge impact on League of Ireland football. Matches have been suspended until March 29th but don’t be suprised to see the suspension last even longer, given the uncertainty around just how big this virus could affect Ireland.
Compared to other clubs across Europe, Irish clubs rely heavily on gate receipts. Teams do not get any TV money when their side is shown live on RTÉ/Eir Sport. This will be a very tough period for the LOI as a whole.
One club, namely Finn Harps have come out this week and described the effect it could have. Board member Aidan McNelis told the42.ie that they “would almost certainly fold in that scenario unless there was outside assistance.” “It’s not just the gate receipts, it’s the various match sponsors and all the other stuff sold on the night as well”.
Clubs simply cannot function without the fans. As the saying goes “Football without fans is nothing” and that is definitely correct when it comes to the SSE Airtricity League. Many clubs are fan owned but there’s hope that outside assistance will help them through this tough time.
The FAI are said to be putting contingency plans in place to deal with this issue. They held a meeting on March 11th with National League Executive Committee and the Professional Footballer’s Association of Ireland to discuss the situation.
In a statement released by the FAI they are said to have “discussed the financial implications they face.” Once this is established they will be seeking “support of government and UEFA.” They will continue to meet daily and more information will be released over the coming weeks.
Although deputy CEO Niall Quinn says the virus disruption could be “catastrophic”. We have to hope the right proposals will be put in place so that our clubs are supported and are not left out to dry.