Travel is­sues cast doubt over Kenny’s Ir­ish bow

Bul­garia clash in jeop­ardy as Quinn ad­mits Govern­ment ad­vice may over­ride UEFA plans

Irish Independent - - Sport - Daniel McDonnell

NIALL QUINN has ad­mit­ted that the fate of Ire­land’s UEFA Na­tions League opener in Bul­garia is ef­fec­tively out of the FAI’s hands.

The deputy CEO says that the As­so­ci­a­tion have to pre­pare for all even­tu­al­i­ties and fol­low the lead of the Govern­ment in mak­ing any de­ci­sions around the Septem­ber 3 en­counter which is due to be Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge.

Bul­garia is not on the green list and the ris­ing num­ber of cases in both coun­tries is a cause for con­cern. UEFA want teams to travel in bub­bles to games but have floated the idea of mov­ing matches to neu­tral venues if nec­es­sary.

And a fur­ther complicati­on for the FAI is that they have play­ers scat­tered around Eng­land who would have to get per­mis­sion to re­port to Dublin in the first place with­out com­ply­ing with quar­an­tine rules.

Is­sues around travel are also a con­cern for League of Ire­land clubs ahead of next week’s Euro­pean draw.

“UEFA will be the key in say­ing whether this game has to hap­pen or not,” said Quinn yes­ter­day,

“But if they are not lis­ten­ing to gov­ern­ments, then we may have a de­ci­sion to make. I would have thought there would be com­mon sense in the air there to keep ev­ery­one safe.

“Much as we want all of Stephen’s plans to come to fruition and to see all the games tak­ing place the way they are sched­uled right now, we just have to be vig­i­lant and ready to al­ter if pos­si­ble, when or if needed.

“That’s the times we are in. I’d love

to be more con­fi­dent of games tak­ing place, but we are just in this bind.

“We are not clar­i­fied in what can hap­pen and clubs are ask­ing the same ques­tion.

“We’d love to have all the an­swers, but I think NPHET (Na­tional Pub­lic Health

Emer­gency Team) will be most im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing the an­swers there.”

Quinn did not rule out talk of a neu­tral venue con­tin­gency plan for Sofia.

Ire­land are set to take on Fin­land in Dublin three days later, so the Govern­ment green light will be re­quired for

var­i­ous el­e­ments of the dou­ble-header.

“If Govern­ment is over­rid­ing that (UEFA de­ci­sion) with ad­vice that pre­vents us from do­ing what we as an as­so­ci­a­tion would like to do, then we have to lis­ten to that,” he said. “We have no choice.”

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