FAI interim CEO Gary Owens hopeful Dublin will host Euro 2020 games and fans

The FAI is still working under the assumption that Dublin will hosts its share of Euro 2020 next summer and that there will be fans inside the Aviva Stadium to witness them.

The Lansdowne Road venue is due to host three Group E games and a round of 16 clash in the delayed tournament and Uefa will step up their bid to bring fans back to grounds when Bayern Munich and Seville meet in Budapest next week in the Super Cup.

The European governing body is using the game as a test event for spectators with 20,000 being catered for at the Puskas Arena and FAI interim CEO Gary Owens is banking on it being a breakthrough in sport’s bid to return to something approaching normality.

“Next week’s game is going to be quite important,” said Owens. “I was on a Uefa conference call last Wednesday and they are still expecting fans to be attending games (at the Euros) next June so we obviously have to work here with local government and the expert medical group and NPHET. We will have to feed that in.

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

The FAI boss made the point at an Oireachtas committee gathering called to address the impact of the pandemic on Ireland’s sporting sector and expressed the hope that the Super Cup game would prove to be a crucial educational tool in addressing the situation here in Ireland.

It is estimated that the FAI has lost €19m as a result of the coronavirus and the subsequent fallout with €4m of that suffered by clubs and a similar figure will be required to ensure that the League of Ireland outfits remain viable entities in 2021.

“This year we supported them to the tune of three-and-a-half million 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 on Friday morning.

Mark Scanlon, director of the Airtricity League, added the €3.5m used to support the league in 2020 was actually based on a reduced 18-game season and explained that a larger sum again would be needed if the competition returns to its normal 36-game length in 2021.”

Owens also revealed that the WatchLOI streaming service, introduced on a trial basis due to the absence of fans in stadiums, had delivered financial returns to the clubs that have been “disappointingly low”.

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