The League of Ireland will resume on 31 July, and while an 18-game season has been decided upon, Sligo Rovers have spoken out against the final format.

The format of the season will be two series of matches, with promotion and relegation remaining the same.

The League of Ireland clubs voted this morning on four preferred options, with a narrow victory for keeping the existing format.

The National League Executive Committee then ratified the vote.

The format is likely to have infuriated a number of other Premier Division clubs who were very much against a policy where two teams could be relegated on the back of an 18-game season, and Sligo Rovers spoke out about their disappointment. 

A club statement read: "This format proposed today was of particular disappointment to the club and is something we sternly object to.

"We believe it is grossly unfair, unjust and do not see the matter as concluded," added the club, who currently sit bottom of the table with no points from four games played. 

The north-western club also confirmed that their first team players returned to training and employment this week. 

Shamrock Rovers have confirmed they voted in favour of the format.

A statement from the Dublin club read: "The option chosen by the NLEC is one that Shamrock Rovers have supported and stood by. The club are satisfied with today's outcome and will begin making preparations for hosting games at Tallaght Stadium."

The Hoops are one of five clubs on the Natonal League Executive Committee. 

In a statement, the FAI said: "The National League Executive Committee has ruled that the SSE Airtricity League will resume from 31 July with two rounds of matches in total, including games played to date, and promotion and relegation as scheduled at the start of the 2020 season. 

"Following a meeting at Abbotstown this morning, the NLEC has written to all clubs informing them that it has decided on Option one of the four options available for a resumption of the SSE Airtricity League.

"Option one maintains the current position with the League to resume as planned with two rounds of fixtures, 18 in total, and counting results of matches played to date.  One club will be automatically promoted to the Premier Division from the First Division, with one club automatically relegated.

"A play-off will take place between the ninth placed Premier Division club and the winner of the First Division play-off series involving the teams that finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in the First Division. The winner of the play-off will play in the Premier Division of the SSE Airtricity League in the 2021 season."

FAI Interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn said it must now be ratified by the FAI board. 

"The NLEC looked at four proposals and in the end, they went with Option One which is the least disruptive of the four," said Quinn. 

"It's good that we can now start to look towards a return date and also that we have clarity on what the fixture list will look like and the plan for the rest of the season."

The FAI Cup is on the agenda to be part of the 2020 season.

"We've looked at how we can make the FAI Cup part of the agenda so that clubs aren't being stretched too far in terms of the length of the season and costs," Quinn added.

"What we've discussed at this point is that the eight quarter-finalists will complete the FAI Cup after the SSE Airtricity League season has ended, and they will be rewarded for getting to that point, to help them financially for the remaining Cup matches and the longer season."

Fixtures will be announced in due course, with a new arrangement of fixtures and not a resumption of when the league was halted. 

Matches will be staged over more days of the week, with one per night in case in a bid to boost streaming audiences. 


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