FAI President Gerry McAnaney

The President of the Football Association of Ireland, Gerry McAnaney, has issued a message to the country’s football family.

He said: “I want to update you on some football issues at a time when our game is so irrelevant to so many but also offers hope in a post Covid-19 future as we search for any light at the end of the tunnel.

“These are very difficult times for everyone in Ireland and around the world as we come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus crisis and I would like to start this message by saluting the brave efforts of our frontline heroes, many of them involved with Irish football, in the battle against Covid-19.

“The selfless dedication and commitment of our medical staff and other frontline workers epitomises everything that is good in Irish life. On behalf of everyone involved in Irish football, I thank them for their service to their country and assure them of our support in any way we can.

“As you are all well aware, football is in lockdown until May 5th at the earliest and we again remind all affiliates that the cessation of football applies to training as well as games. Our medical director, Alan Byrne, remains in constant communication with the HSE and the Department of Health, and his advice is that we follow government guidelines at all times.

“We are in talks with the Department of Sport around a return to football once the government restrictions on movement are lifted. The FAI is represented on a weekly call hosted by government with all NGBs, and we are engaging with all stakeholders on how a return to sporting action will look once the lockdown is eased. We will let you know how this applies to your club as soon as more information is available and I thank you, in advance, for your patience.

“We are also in dialogue with UEFA and FIFA regarding the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on all levels of our game. Interim CEO Gary Owens will represent the FAI on a conference call for all 55 member nations with UEFA on Tuesday which will again debate plans for a return to football.”

Mr. McAnaney said he was delighted to share some good news regarding the FAI’s engagement with the grassroots element of the game.

“We have recently launched our new Grassroots channels across social media and the launch of our FAI Homeskills programme, in association with the SFAI and FAI Schools, has been a phenomenal success. I would encourage you all to engage with the FAI Homeskills programme as we look to keep our young players actively involved during this lockdown.”

He also praised the hard-working development officers have been to the forefront of a new community initiative to help those most effected by the current lockdown.

He expalined: “With the support of our sponsorship partners Boots, Nissan and Spar, we will activate this programme in more locations in the coming weeks and, again, I thank all our DOs for their involvement.”

Mr. McAnaney concluded: “On closing, may I wish you and yours the very best of health in these unprecedented times and please, stay home and stay safe. Ní neart go cur le chéile.”