FAI to outline details of financial support to League of Ireland clubs

Funding of almost €6 million to be available for top flight and First Division sides

League of Ireland clubs are to find out how much funding they will receive form the FAI. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

League of Ireland clubs are to find out how much funding they will receive form the FAI. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

The FAI is to contact League of Ireland clubs individually over the coming days in order to outline how they are likely to benefit from the package of supports for the 2021 season that was unveiled on Monday morning.

New CEO Jonathan Hill and League Director Mark Scanlon told the clubs that total funding of almost €6 million would be available with the association’s board having agreed that the organisation will guarantee to directly underwrite €3.6 million of that.

Total prize money is to be raised from €338,000 to €600,000 while affiliation and referees’ fees worth a combined €500,000 - are to be waived and travel grants are to be increased more than fourfold to €80,000.

Overall, Premier Division clubs would be guaranteed to receive at least €215,000 each over the course of the season while those in the First Division would be guaranteed €50,000. On top of that some €780,000 would be divided between the top flight sides in proportion to what they might have been expected to have generated in a normal season with around €220,000 to be carved up between the second tier outfits.

No specific package of supports has been agreed by the association with Sport Ireland or the government but the numbers do not take account of the government funded wage subsidy scheme which has been very widely availed of. A number of clubs are effectively having most of their players’ wages covered by the scheme and some amateur players have been encouraged to turn pro since the pandemic so that previously agreed expenses would effectively be paid by the Government.

For clubs with larger wage bills, however, the scheme could be worth around €7,500 per week but even then there is a substantial shortfall as well as uncertainty as to how long the money will be provided. These clubs been amongst the most anxious to see separate supports provided.

There was a mixed response overall to what has been put on the table with some clubs feeling that it fell well short of what they had been led to be believe might be made available, but others believing the global figures were about as good as could have been expected from the association in the circumstances, even if the way the money is to be divided should be changed.

The feeling here was that a higher proportion of the total should have been given in the form of grants to stage or travel to games as these involved fixed and largely unavoidable costs.

Overall, the association told clubs that its analysis suggested some €7 million in revenue would be lost this season in the event that no paying supporters are allowed into games, which is increasingly the assumption.

The FAI’s board has effectively agreed to underwrite more than half of that but its own talks with Government about additional funding are ongoing with talks between the parties expected to take place over the next week.

There is some surprise among clubs that that situation wasn’t resolved earlier but it seems that the association has found it difficult to progress things with Government and it was coming under pressure from clubs to finalise the figures.

As it is, clubs had to estimate their budgets for licensing purposes several weeks ago and some suggest that the numbers put to them on Monday fall short of what they had anticipated given what was received last year for playing out less than half of the season.

Most of those contacted by The Irish Times on Monday afternoon said that they were still unsure of how much exactly they were likely to get and would reserve judgement until after they were contacted the association and given additional detail.

The association is also expected to make another sponsorship announcement in the coming days.

The Premier Division fixtures have been announced, meanwhile, with Shamrock Rovers due to host St Patrick’s Athletic on March 19th, the opening night of the season. Dundalk will travel to Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps will host Bohemians while Drogheda United and Longford Town will host Waterford and Derry City respectively. The EA Sports Cup has again been cancelled with the FAI Cup has been scheduled for November 28th.

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