FAI interim CEO Gary Owens has admitted he's "worried" about the impact the current Covid-19 restrictions will have on the League of Ireland next year as the association appealed for additional financial support.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Covid-19 Response Committee today, Owens stressed that contingency plans will have to be considered if no supporters are allowed to attend games in 2021. 

Ireland is currently at Level 2 of the Government's Living with Covid-19 plan. That means 200 people are allowed to attend sporting events where the capacity of a stadium is over 5,000, with 100 spectators allowed at smaller venues.

However, if it is confirmed that Dublin moves to Level 3 this evening, no fans will be allowed at matches taking place in the capital.

Owens said the FAI are looking for additional state support of around €19.2m from Sport Ireland - with at least €3.5m required to protect the LOI.


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"This year we supported [LOI clubs] to the tune of €3.5m and so, in our submission, we will be looking for around the same next year to financially support the clubs and which would basically keep them viable," Owens said.

"I am worried about the impact on League of Ireland clubs. It will be significant if we can't have fans in and we are going to have to have some contingency plans around some of the clubs. 

"Clubs that qualify for Europe will have a better opportunity, clubs that don't will really struggle next year. We have enough visibility this year but going into 2021 it will be difficult without any fans in the ground and without any financial support.

"They are in really dangerous territory, with the current ban on large attendances.

"The only income really that the League of Ireland clubs get is through fans and that would represent 80% of the income.

"Part of what we've been doing with the resumption of the League of Ireland is actually testing what potential income we could get to from streaming matches [through the WatchLOI service].

"That has been disappointingly low to be honest. It's in line with the budget we put in place but it was an alternative to generate some income for the League of Ireland clubs."

Dublin is one of 12 cities slated to host games at the deferred Euros next summer. Owens said there's now a lot riding on on the Super Cup final between Bayern Munich and Sevilla on Thursday 24 September.

The Puskas Arena will be at 30% capacity for the game, meaning around 20,000 fans will be in the stadium.

"I was on a UEFA conference call last Wednesday and they are still expecting fans to be attending games next June so we obviously have to work here with local government and the expert medical group and NPHET," added Owens. 

"That's why I feel next week is important in terms of a pilot test for 20,000. They are doing that on the basis that they have an eye on the Euros next year.

"As things stand today, we are still expecting to hold the Euros here next year with fans and we have a challenge in trying to convince everybody that that will happen."