- 12 Mar 20
Ireland’s immediate sporting future was plunged into uncertainty this morning by the ban – announced by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – of gatherings of over 500 people outdoors until March 29
The immediate future of sport in Ireland has been plunged into doubt by the announcement of new measures this morning by the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
Among the new restrictions announced by the Taoiseach is a limit on mass gatherings outdoors of more than 500 people. If that is to be taken at face value, it will mean a complete shut-down of major sporting activity until March 29. This will include inter-county GAA games; major rugby matches involving the provinces Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster; most if not all League of Ireland football; planned race meetings – and lots more besides.
So far, sporting authorities have not responded to what clearly are extreme measures – but there seems to no way that major sporting activity can circumvent the ban, unless a decision is made to allow them to proceed behind closed doors. However, except with international fixtures, that seems like an unlikely outcome, with postponement being the most likely option – at least for now.
If activity is successfully restarted on March 30th, it is unlikely that the decision will completely devastate the various leagues and other sporting titles being fought for at the moment. However, there is currently no guarantee that activities will be resumed, and the threat exists that the entire season of sporting activities may be upended.
Meanwhile, in the UK, some Premier League managers are asking for games to be cancelled, rather than being played behind closed doors – as happened with Ireland's women’s international match this week against Montenegro, which resulted in a 3-0 win for Ireland. Sheffield manager Chris Wilder has openly stated postponement as his preferred option. However, the Premier League has yet to announce any new measures, with the UK government also with-holding its hand as of yet.
Meanwhile, Bosnia have sought the postponement of their Euro 2020 playoff game against Northern Ireland. Whether Slovakia will do the same in relation to their game against Ireland remains to be seen. A decision was made two days ago by UEFA that the game would go ahead behind closed doors – though doubts have been expressed by the Deputy CEO at the FAI, Niall Quinn, as to whether the game will actually proceed. However, if the Bosnia game is delayed, then that would automatically mean that the winners of the Ireland .v. Slovakia game would not know their fate either way until later in the season – if at all...