July internationals all postponed; Is football behind closed doors really football at all?

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ireland’s matches against Australia in July have been postponed. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland’s matches against Australia in July have been postponed. Photograph: Inpho

World Rugby has postponed the entire programme of international matches scheduled for the 2020 July window - including Ireland’s two Tests in Australia. Leinster legend Isa Nacewa believes the reopening of New Zealand and the return of rugby action there can be a blueprint for the rest of the world: “Sport can go ahead, which is a huge positive, and hopefully this is the blueprint to do it. So many people will be watching in hope that it goes smoothly and continues to be fluid in week 10 with a competition winner.” In his latest coronavirus diary entry, Andrew Conway wonders when rugby returns, will he still be able to play it? “It will also be the longest off-season without an injury any of us will ever have had.”

The Premier League has been told by the British government it must show some matches on free-to-air TV and put more money into the Football League and grassroots game as a condition for restarting this season. Patrick Madden asks If football resumes behind closed doors, is it really football at all? “Football is so much more than the 90 minutes played out on the pitch. Football is sensory – it’s the smells and the sounds and the tastes, it’s what you see and hear. Football is who you go with and who you meet. It’s seeing the green pitch for the first time as a child and being hooked for life.” Emmet Malone reports that the FAI believes that two full rounds of both Airtricity League divisions can be finished behind closed doors later this year for a total cost of €2.6 million - and if some sides decide to opt out that the others could go on without them.

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