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FAI suspends COVID-19 testing...
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FAI suspends COVID-19 testing as return to play draws nearer

The FAI are bringing forward their return to play roadmap. 

It follows the news that the Government are speeding up the easing of restrictions, and allowing contact sports resume on June 29.

The FAI say that all SSE Airtricity League and Women’s National League clubs can resume training on June 29, along with playing intra-club friendlies.

Games against adult amateur teams can commence from July 11.

SSE Airtricity Premier Division clubs will decide on a return to play date early next week, with early August earmarked for the Women's National League.

It's also been announced that COVID-19 testing of Dundalk, Bohemians, Derry City and Shamrock Rovers will be suspended with immediate effect.

The four European-qualified sides are due to play in a mini-competition upon football's formal return.

There's been six rounds of testing at the four clubs, with no positive results so far. Results from Thursday's round of testing at Bohemians are outstanding.

"The results to date from the six rounds of testing have all been negative and that is a real indicator that our game is a minimal contact sport which reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our players," said FAI Medical Director Alan Byrne.

"When you analyse those results and look at the medical evidence from other leagues around Europe, I am confident that we can suspend testing now as we prepare for a Safer Return to Football.

"Our aim from the very outset of this process has been to accommodate a return to play that is as safe as we can possibly make it for our players, match officials, staff and everyone involved with our clubs.

"I have said all along that the only certainty with COVID-19 is the uncertainty but these results all suggest that we are moving in the right direction as we look to get Irish football back to something approaching normality.

“We remain committed to Government guidelines around COVID-19 and this decision can be reversed if circumstances change.

"I would give great credit to all the players and staff from the four clubs who have made this pilot programme a success."

Amateur and underage return

The adult amateur game will allow resume competitive action on July 18, along with underage football under the jurisdiction of the FAI.

Friendlies will be allowed to be played from July 11.

Under the new Safer Return to Football pathway, the FAI has approved the following measures:

 

  • Adult Amateur and Underage football can return to full contact training, including training games between teams from the same club, from June 29th
  • Adult Amateur and Underage football can return to playing friendly games from July 11th
  • Adult Amateur and Underage football can return to playing competitive matches from July 18th
  • All Adult Amateur and Underage Leagues operating a Winter season, who have had applications to extend their 2019-2020 season approved, can resume League fixtures from July 18th and must have all competitions completed by September 14th
  • All other Adult Amateur and Underage Leagues operating a Winter Season can commence their 2020/21 season from July 18th
  • All Adult Amateur and Underage Leagues operating a Summer Season can resume/commence from July 18th and must have all competitions completed by November 30th

Welcoming the announcement of the new Safer Return to Football Pathway, FAI Interim CEO Gary Owens said, “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.

"We will remain fully committed to all Government guidelines regarding COVID-19 but today offers real hope to Irish football at all levels of the game and I look forward to seeing all our players back on the field of play.”

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Bohemians Derry City Dr Alan Byrne Dundalk FAI SSE Airtricity League Shamrock Rovers

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