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Irish football fixtures to return initially behind closed doors

Fri, Jul 17 2020

Cobh Ramblers players wearing masks at a recent training session Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

The FAI confirmed on Friday that when competitive football returns at the end of the month, it will be played effectively behind closed doors.

The Association published ‘Safer Return to Football’ protocols for all SSE Airtricity League and WNL clubs. They detail all aspects of match day and medical operations, with guidelines for all National League fixtures.

The document confirms that, following the latest government guidelines, the total attendance at games when football initially returns will be 200 – that figure includes all players, staff, medical personnel, security and stadium staff, broadcasters and media. Should any spectators be able to attend, the clubs are required to have a record of contact details for spectators attending the game for contact tracing purposes.

Pre-match

Ahead of all fixtures the clubs are to liaise with their relevant contact in An Garda Siochana with specific attention given to external areas around the stadium to ensure there is no congregation of supporters. 

A deep clean of the venue is required on the morning of the match, with all cleaned areas sealed until the teams and match officials arrive. Team arrivals are to be coordinated so that teams arrive at the stadium separately. 

Masks

Physios must wear a facemask and gloves when treating any players and all non-playing, coaching and backroom staff must also wear face coverings. 

Balls

All footballs for warm-ups and the match must be cleaned and sanitised. Ballboys and ballgirls will not be used, however ball retrievers are to be placed in each stand or terraced areas. Spare balls will be located around the pitch with four on each side-line, two on each backline and two with the fourth official.

Media

Only 15 journalists and six photographers will be permitted to attend fixtures. Journalists will be allocated seats that adhere to COVID-19 Safe Distancing which may be facilitated by extending the press box to other areas of the stadium. Interviews must be conducted outdoors (pitch-side). 

The Safer Return to Football Medical and Match Operations Protocols can be viewed here.