IFA: CEO Patrick Nelson calls on NI Executive to help football clubs during the coronavirus pandemic

Patrick Nelson

The Chief Executive of the Irish FA has called on the NI Executive to offer financial support to football clubs during the coronavirus crisis.

Clubs are not currently eligible for the £10,000 coronavirus support grant that has already been paid to around 7,000 businesses.

All local football has been suspended until at least 30 April.

"It seems that football clubs are outside of the business grant at this point," said IFA CEO Patrick Nelson.

"We are lobbying Government to try and bring football and sports club in general back into that mix.

"We are calling on the Executive to have another look at that and make sure that football can benefit.

"We are quite a strong industry in Northern Ireland. If you take the Danske Bank Premiership on its own, it employs about 350 people and generates a wage roll of about £3m a year."

Irish Premiership clubs recently received money from Uefa as part of pre-arranged payment that was brought forward following the outbreak of the virus, however there are fears that the ongoing crisis could put an irreversible financial strain on some clubs.

Linfield v Coleraine
Linfield hold a four point lead over Coleraine at the top of the Irish Premiership with seven rounds of fixtures left

The league was suspended on 13 March with seven rounds of fixtures remaining, while the Irish Cup remains at the semi-final stage.

Nelson reiterated the IFA's desire to complete the season, but added that the current situation made it impossible to put a timeframe on the season's resumption.

"It will be good to try and get those completed so that we can identify who our teams are for Europe next season and also to maintain the sporting integrity of the leagues," Nelson said.

"Uefa are very keen with all 55 nations that we complete the current season, and they didn't give us a time limit at this point.

"It was impossible to be specific or definitive. They had some ideas but they are just that at this point, just speculative."

Among the tournaments to be indefinitely postponed by is the under-19 European Championship, which was set to take place in Northern Ireland in July.

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