Cash-strapped FAI to lose out on vital income as Aviva unavailable for friendlies

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Cash-strapped FAI to lose out on vital income as Aviva unavailable for friendlies
Cash-strapped FAI to lose out on vital income as Aviva unavailable for friendlies

European footballing body Uefa has said the “official handover” to it of the venue will be May 15, with the Aviva due to host four games in June.

Traditionally, the FAI has grossed millions from the final warm-up matches prior to major tournaments such as the Euros.

But this time hosting rights debar the FAI replicating 2012 and 2016 windfalls.

Instead the FAI is being forced to play its final pair of friendlies at a smaller alternative venue, such as Thomond Park or the RDS.

It deprives it of a vital income just as it begins tackling its €70m debt pile.

Ireland can still qualify for the tournament, but face two away qualifiers in March – first against Slovakia then, if successful, against the winner of Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

This, in connection with the pre-Euros lockout by Uefa, means that only three home internationals will be played at the Dublin 4 venue in 2020.

It’s the lowest number since the Aviva reopened in 2010.

The following year saw the highest, seven, and the average number of games a year has been 5.5.

This year’s trio of games will be Uefa Nations League games against fellow middle-ranked countries in a group to be drawn on March 3.

Stephen Kenny will have stepped up from the U-21 post by then, but the Dubliner’s progression could be sooner should Mick McCarthy’s second stint at the helm fail in the play-offs. But any hope the FAI harboured of converting the feel good factor from Kenny’s elevation into a 51,000 full-house at the Aviva have been dashed.

Thomond Park, the frontrunner for providing a temporary home, holds just 25,500.

The best turnout of the two matches previously staged at the home of Munster rugby was 19,428.

During that period of 2009 and 2010, while Lansdowne Road was in construction phase, the RDS also hosted a couple of games with Giovanni Trapattoni at the helm.

A return to either venue in June will incur a substantial rental cost, eroding the profits further.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish