Following the release today of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery Plan for Living with COVID-19, the FAI, GAA and IRFU, representing a major block of the spectator sports that will be impacted, have set up a working group to bring a collaborative approach to the development of a roadmap for the safe return of spectators to stadia.
The group will include representatives of Sport Ireland and will be chaired by Martin Murphy, Stadium Director of the Aviva Stadium.
The plan will be to develop a common set of guidelines and protocols for presentation to Government via the Sport Expert Group that was established over the summer.
The process will include working with statutory agencies around the maximum permitted number of spectators and how that can be managed withing public health guidelines but at the same time provide a return to larger numbers in stadia.
Heed will be taken of initiatives from international sport and the protocols that are being developed in different sporting environments around the world.
“Sport plays a hugely important role in Irish society and by working together the FAI, GAA, and the IRFU will bring their collective expertise and learning to develop a roadmap for the safe return of spectators to the sports events they love and miss deeply,” said Martin Murphy.
“The number one consideration for this group is to seek a series of protocols which would allow spectators back into sporting fixtures in a safe way while complying fully with Government Health guidelines.”
The stakes are high for each of the three sports. The GAA’s inter-county Championship season will get underway in October with the Guinness Series of Rugby Internationals in November.
The FAI will be operating to UEFA guidelines come Euro 2020 in June but if Ireland is significantly out of step with Europe by that time it may be that Dublin could cede the hosting of four games.