Euro 2020 postponed

Mick McCarthy. Photo: Jon Candy/WikiCommons.

By David Prendeville

In this time of great uncertainty the precarious position this crisis has left soccer in is utterly trivial. However, while trying to pass the time in the depths of our solitude, we might as well, and consider exactly where this leaves the Irish national team’s Euro qualification campaign and the Premier League. One thing we are certain about is that the Euro 2020 finals (some games of which were to be held in Dublin) will not now take place this summer, and instead will take place in summer 2021.
As to when Ireland will play their play-off tournament in a bid to qualify for that tournament, remains up in the air. June 4th has been mentioned, but that seems like a real best-case scenario outcome. Perhaps, depending on where things stand at that point, the games could be played behind closed doors, but that still seems a long shot.
How the Premier League goes about completion of its own success adds further complications to trying to put a timeline on any football schedules, club or international, going forward. The Premier League is currently suspended until at least April 30th. Again, it will more than likely be considerably longer than that before it can return. The general consensus seems to be that the priority should be getting this season’s league finished, whenever it may be possible to do so, amidst suggestions in some quarters that the season should simply be declared null and void. Some rival supporters would certainly like to see Liverpool’s inevitable title chalked off but nobody could honestly suggest it fair, not even considering the host of other legal quandaries it would pose.
Prioritization of finishing the 2019/20 season could also mean next season is also pushed back further. How this will then further effect Euro 2021 qualifiers or how it reshapes the structure of the traditional season remains to be seen. The biggest logistical headache it would provide the FAI with may be the fact that Mick McCarthy’s contract is set to expire in the summer, after the Euros were meant to have taken place.
The FAI, in their wisdom, of course set up the complicated succession plan whereby Stephen Kenny takes over the role directly after McCarthy. Should McCarthy get Ireland qualified prior to the expiry of his contract, would he just stand aside to let Kenny manage the team in the tournament. And vice-versa, would Kenny accept an alteration to the deal he has in place with the FAI to let McCarthy finish the job he started?
Whatever the answers may be, let’s hope we get to a position where it is deemed safe for football to resume in the not too distant future. There will be something triumphant when the first ball is kicked in the aftermath of this crisis. A small, sporting symbol of what we hope will be a brighter future.