All Irish football has been put on hold for the time being with the Coronavirus outbreak. Ireland’s important playoff game against Slovakia has been suspended due to the concerns over the virus. In the last few days, it has been confirmed by UEFA that Ireland’s crucial game could now be played in June, at the earliest. This news comes following UEFA’s decision to postpone the European Championships until 2021.
Ireland’s key game against Slovakia had originally been fixed for March 26th but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the game was called off. The FAI have been told that the rescheduling of the game looks likely to be played between the 1st and 9th of June, depending on the situation with the virus at this time. The other playoff semi final between Northern Ireland and Bosnia will also be played during these dates if everything goes to plan.
Mick McCarthy’s contract is scheduled to expire in August; he will then be replaced by Stephen Kenny. If Ireland were to win the play offs and get through to the Euros next year, many Irish fans will be asking the question: who will be in charge for the tournament? The FAI will certainly have a difficult decision to make regarding this scenario if it were to happen. Reports suggest Kenny will be the main man taking up the mantle giving his contract will have started at that point.
Currently, it is and will be a challenging couple of weeks and months for all Irish football fans without any games to watch and attend. News also broke this week that the FAI are planning for the resumption of the League of Ireland in June. Many League of Ireland clubs have and will suspend pay for players and management due to little or no income being brought into clubs. This is due to the current suspension of the league.
A group of Irish internationals that includes James McClean, Enda Stevens and Kevin Long have come together to support the League of Ireland’s unfortunate position. The players have donated €25,000 to an emergency fund that will aid League of Ireland players affected by the Covid-19 crisis. McClean described it as a “sad situation” and emphasised it was a “no brainer” to chip into the fund.
Despite the disappointment of many football events and matches being cancelled, all agree that it is more important to put peoples’ health first. This pandemic is been taken seriously by UEFA who are responding appropriately. FAI interim CEO Gary Owens believes “UEFA has made the right decision today in the interests of the health and well-being of football players, fans and staff alike”.