Derry City boss Declan Devine has welcomed the FAI’s decision to immediately postpone all League of Ireland games following Leo Varadkar’s call for outdoor gatherings of more than 500 to be banned following the COVID-19 outbreak.
While located in the north of Ireland, which as of yet, has not gone into lockdown, Devine has said that the club will back the suspension of games and football-related activity in accordance with FAI guidelines in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Football Association of Ireland announces the cessation of all football under its jurisdiction until March 29 inclusive, and with immediate effect following directives from Government, the Department of Health and UEFA.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 12, 2020
The club has players from Norway, Argentina, Ivory Coast, Belgium, England and Scotland within its ranks but Devine insists they aren’t ‘on holidays’ despite the suspension of games and stressed the importance of his players remaining in Derry until the ban is lifted.
Devine believes it is paramount that the players remain in Derry so as to not contract and ultimately spread the virus further.
“We’ve got to be careful, first and foremost. If people were to leave the country we’ve got to make sure they’re able to get back and we can’t guarantee that with the way things are looking,” said Devine via The Derry Journal.
“There are countries shutting down but we’re not on holiday. We are very much preparing for whatever we’re told and ensuring we’re ready to play games.
— Derry City FC (@derrycityfc) March 12, 2020
“We were really looking forward to Sligo but it’s completely out of our hands now,” added Devine. “The welfare of the people, the players, the staff, the supporters is paramount.
“In terms of having to plan, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare. I’m sure other clubs will be feeling the pinch themselves but we’re very fortunate that the players are all living in the city which gives us the option of people coming in on a daily basis to train. That’s obviously dependant on facilities being open.
🗨️ Football is less important than the health of our people 🗨️
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) March 12, 2020
“We have to stick to the guidelines but also make sure that when football resumes we’re in a good place. Everyone is in a situation where (the virus) can spread very easily so we have to make sure we give ourselves every chance to stay free from it. Once one player in our league gets the virus then it runs the risk of escalating out of control and that’s the worry.
“This three week period could end up being five weeks. Five weeks could end up being seven weeks, we just don’t know.
“All we can do is take care of our own environment and hopefully we can stay clear of whatever’s coming the way to the people of Ireland – that’s the reality of it.”