The 2021 League of Ireland season will be delayed until at least 19 March.

The FAI met with the National League Executive Committee yesterday – the body which features five clubs elected to represent all 19 teams – and a decision was reached to move the start date for the Premier Division until after St Patrick's Day.

The First Division date has been changed to 26 March.  

Last season, the top flight campaign started on 14 February.

A later date of 26 February had been indicated for the 2021 campaign due to the Covid-19 landscape but with crowds unlikely to be back at games in the first quarter of the year and the public health situation also uncertain, the decision was taken to push back the start of the campaign even further.

The 2020 season was only able to resume after lengthy discussions on format and a financial package which was in the region of €2m.

Clubs must now decide whether to delay pre-season training which typically starts in the next week for the majority.

Some Premier Division sides have signed just a handful of players for the new season, while top four sides have up to 16 players under contract. 

League of Ireland director Mark Scanlon said in a letter to clubs that FAI staff will meet their board shortly to decide on what approach to take when seeking funding from the government and added they are extremely grateful for the state support received thus far.