The FAI are pondering the idea of streaming League of Ireland matches behind a paywall, according to interim deputy chief executive Niall Quinn.
The League of Ireland has been at a standstill since mid-March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, the Irish government ruled that any gathering of a crowd of 5,000 or more people would not be allowed until September at the earliest.
This has increased the anxiety surrounding the restart of the league, with the planned date of June 19th looking highly unlikely.
Discussions have been ongoing between the FAI and National League Executive Committee over the possible options to aid the league’s return. These options consist of shortening fixture lists, resuming in September, and finishing in December or holding the league from September to February of 2021.
In an interview with Off The Ball, Quinn announced that they “are looking elsewhere.” With the possibility of games being played behind closed doors and streamed online mentioned.
“We have gone a long way down the line looking at a streaming option where all games can be accessed via a digital paywall. That’s technically in a really good position, so that can happen if that’s where we believe the clubs can go.
“We would look at a financial audit there and find out exactly what would be required from streaming to make it feasible.
“There’s also now at the moment the possibility of a contribution from FIFA. I think UEFA have been very good to us, I think the Government have been very good to us, so we wouldn’t refuse anything. But FIFA have expressed a public willingness to assist associations hit hard in the current pandemic.
“We are looking at that as well as trying to put that together with a potential streaming revenue and say to clubs – this is what it all adds up to and it’s up to you now at this point where you want to go.”
St. Patrick’s Athletic were the most recent League of Ireland club to announce that they would be temporarily laying off staff to deal with the financial strain caused by COVID-19.
In an interview with RTÉ, St Pats club president, Tom O’Mahoney outlined his doubts over the possibility of games being played behind closed doors.
“There is no possibility that the income stream that could come from that would in any way be sufficient to make it viable. So behind closes doors football is not going to happen for the League of Ireland.”
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) April 23, 2020