ON Friday evening, the FAI ratified a safer return to football plan which will see the return of adult amateur and underage teams to full training on Monday June 29th.
Up until now, training numbers were limited to 14 with the presence of a coach and remained contact free as social distancing measures were in place.
However, in conjunction with yesterday’s governments guidelines and advice from the Department of Health, full training and matches between members from the same club can resume on June 29th.
Furthermore, clubs can arrange friendlies from July 11th and a return to competitive action has been penned in for July 18th.
Any Amateur and Underage League who had previously applied to continue their 2019/2020 season, can start on July 18th but must have all games completed by September 14th. This will not apply to the Limerick District and Desmond Leagues who decided to cancel the 2019/2020 season.
All teams operating a winter league can begin their 2020/2021 season on July 18th while teams operating a summer league can resume on the same date but must be completed by November 18th.
FAI Interim CEO Garry Owens has welcomed the announcement and the opportunities they provide.
“Today’s decision allows all our players and stakeholders to look forward to a full and safe return to competitive football by July 20th. I know how much that will mean to so many across the country.”
“Our game has been in lockdown since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic so this is great news for all concerned. We must, at this point, thank all those frontline workers who have made so many sacrifices to allow us, as a society, to get back to a point where we can plan for a Safer Return to Football and for the return of live sport to all our lives.
The Football community, together with so many of our FAI staff, have also worked so hard to get us ready for this return and I want to thank all those who have made today’s announcement possible. I also want to thank the Government and all their agencies for their support for Irish football in what has been a very challenging time for everyone.”
Dr. Alan Byrne also thanked every club for their compliance during phase 1 and 2 of the return to training protocols.
“All our clubs, from the biggest senior teams to the smallest underage clubs across the country, deserve so much credit for getting us to this point. Our aim is to make football as safe as it can be for all concerned within our game. We are very close now to getting back on the pitch and playing matches again and I urge all involved to follow the Protocol for a Safer Return to Football, which we will issue next week, as we complete this journey together.”