A group of Republic of Ireland internationals have come together to help Irish clubs who are struggling financially due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
James McClean, Kevin Long and Enda Stevens, who are clients of Integrity Sports, are among those to have jointly donated €25,000 to an emergency fund to help League of Ireland players whose employment has been impacted by the outbreak of the virus.
Graham Barrett, the ex-Arsenal and Ireland international who runs Integrity Sports, released a statement outlining the reason for the generous donation.
“Over the past few days, I have been in conversation with a number of my clients from Integrity Sports about how they and I would like to help people,” said Barrett.
“The challenge for us was trying to identify where best to begin because right now, there are so many deserving cases and so many people in need.
“Together, we have decided what little help we can to an industry very close to our hearts, the health and welfare of the people within the League of Ireland. The league is where most of Integrity Sport’s international clients like James McClean, Enda Stevens, Kevin Long, Gavin Bazunu etc began their careers and their opportunities were born here.
“Others like Jack Byrne and Graham Burke credit the League of Ireland clubs and the people they have dealt with in the league as the reason they have now also become senior internationals.
“As of today, we have raised €25,000. This money will be put towards an Emergency Fund to be used by Noel (Byrne – Shamrock Rovers official and chair of the National League Executive Committee) and the NLEC in conjunction with Stephen McGuinness and Ollie Cahill of the PFAI, to aid players who will undoubtedly need assistance in the coming weeks.
“We know that this money is not a solution in itself and we have made the gesture because we have all benefited from being involved with the League of Ireland and recognise that the league’s survival is imperative to the continued progression of football within this country.
“Right now, it may feel as if the world is falling down and people are naturally very anxious but keeping each other safe and following the government guidelines to achieve this now is of paramount importance.
"To do anything else would be reckless and would put the very future of Sligo Rovers under severe threat."https://t.co/abDjJk4GJ9
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) March 19, 2020
“This morning, I spoke to Noel and we know that a number of clubs are facing significant financial challenges and simply do not have the cash to continue to pay their players while the league remains suspended.
“I shared this information with Integrity’s clients and, to a man, they were extremely anxious to be proactive and make some tangible contribution to help ease the difficulties most in the League of Ireland are now suffering. They have never ever forgotten where they have come in football and never will.”
League of Ireland clubs are expected to be hit particularly hard due to the postponement of the league due to the significant impact on revenue streams.
Sligo Rovers have already announced they have implemented temporary layoffs for all managerial, playing and administration staff.