Behind closed doors protocols...


Behind closed doors protocols "impractical" say Sligo Rovers

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Sligo Rovers say the guidelines regarding a return to action in the SSE Airtricity League presented to clubs earlier this week are impractical. 

A document entitled Return To Football – Behind Closed Doors was put together by the FAI in collaboration with the National League Executive Committee (NLEC) and the players' association, the PFAI.

Football here is suspended until June 19 at the earliest, and among the potential plans for a return is one behind closed doors.

The document presented to clubs outlined a number of measures that will need to be put in place should games be allowed go ahead in empty stadiums.

Among them are players checking their temperatures before the leaving the house, before being re-checked upon arrival at the club.

Two buses must be used by clubs on away trips, and kits should be washed immediately after games.

Clubs have been offered the chance to provide their feedback, and Shamrock Rovers were the first to back the proposals.

However, Sligo Rovers are not so keen.

Bit-o-Red chairman Tommy Higgins says the Return To Football – Behind Closed Doors document "brings with it a lot of complications".

Higgins added, "First of all we have to give credit to the FAI for trying to get everything up and running. They are doing their very best for all of us under very difficult circumstances.

"Finance is one thing, but the practicalities are another.

"There is a 40-page list of to-dos and not to do. The resources required would be prohibitive.

"From our point of view it is not practical for us."

Sligo were among the first clubs to announce temporary layoffs of staff due to the shutting down of football in the country.

They would be in a vastly different fiscal space to Shamrock Rovers, who have continued to employ their staff, albeit with players and coaching staff taking 25 per cent pay cuts.

“I think our club would be against it. It is just not feasible", Higgins added.

"They have to do this exercise for UEFA to see what is happening all over Europe.

"It’s not just an Irish problem, it’s a European and worldwide problem. The cost factor is prohibitive and I don’t know who would be able to afford it

"We’d have to have social distancing and whether we have the facilities to input that for players, I don’t think it’s on. But I have to give support for trying it and checking if it is feasible."

Higgins has also poured cold water on the Niall Quinn's plan to have games which fans can't attempt be streamed online for a fee.

While he sees some merit in the FAI Interim Deputy CEO's idea, Higgins can't see it working in a meaningful sense, "There would be an initial support for that. I’m not so sure that we would get enough streams on that to finance the entire operation.

He added, “We know our demographics, we know there could be issues with broadband in certain areas, we know there could be competition against other leagues when they return.

"When we weigh it up, it’s probably not looking a viable operation. We’ll continue to look at that."

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