The Ulster Council will wait until September before deciding on venues for this season’s Ulster senior football championship, however, it has been reported that Croke Park is being touted as a possible venue.
The provincial championship’s standout game between holders Donegal and 2018 All-Ireland finalists Tyrone is among those fixtures that could possibly be held in Dublin.
Concerns had been raised around the use of MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey as the terraces are thought to be unsuitable when it comes to social distancing in a post-pandemic society.
Donegal are due to meet Tyrone at the venue twice in 2020, first in their Allianz League round six encounter before clashing in the first round of the Ulster championship.
Speaking to BBC NI, Ulster Council secretary Brian McAvoy confirmed that they may consider moving games.
“The bottom line is it has been an unusual year so we may consider moving games and if that has to be case, so be it,” McAvoy.
“Seating is important but unless there is a relaxation in the terracing, there will be very small numbers at games”.
“All options are open. No venues have been fixed so technically we would not be moving anything, though obviously some counties were expecting home venues.
“We don’t need to know today or tomorrow, certainly we would need to know by early September, and we will be in a better position to make informed decisions by then.”
It is believed that the Ulster final will either be held in Clones, where it normally takes place, in front of a crowd of roughly 4,000 or else it will be moved to Croke Park where up to 21,000 spectators will be able to attend.
While three previous Ulster finals were held at HQ between 2004 and 2006, there are no guarantees that Croke Park will be made available. While Munster have enough stadia to cope with social distancing measure, it is believed that the Connacht council may also seek to move games outside the province.
Added to that, the time of year and use of the sunlight is also an issue that needs taking into consideration.
“But you have to remember Croke Park will not always be available either,” added McAvoy.
“The maximum number of games you could have each weekend would be four. There will be big demands on Croke Park and it can’t take them all.
“If the Ulster Final is in Clones where there are no floodlights, there would have to be a 12.30 throw-in because it is taking place on the 22nd of November, not the 22nd of June or July.
“Sunset is at just after 4 o’clock and you have to take extra time, penalties and a presentation into account. There would be no chance of a double bill with a minor final on beforehand for example, so there are many factors to take into account.
“No matter where you go there will be greatly reduced numbers, so it is all quite challenging from a logistics points of view.”