WITH a return to Mayo League football not looking likely until January 31 at the very earliest in light of the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in Ireland, it begs the question about where the ‘paused’ 2020 local soccer season stands?
On December 31 last an e-mail was distributed from the FAI to all soccer clubs across the country informing that discussions were taken place with Sport Ireland to draw up a timeline for a return to sport at grassroots level.
As things currently stand, no games or any collective training can take place for clubs in Mayo until the end of January at the very, very earliest.
This will not come as good news to teams like Westport United or Kiltimagh/Knock United who lead the Super League and the Premier League respectively after eight games played.
Or to the teams like Ballina Town, Manulla, Conn Rangers or S&F United who are all in the chasing packs.
The Mayo Football League was running seamlessly before the second lockdown brought a stop to all activity. Eight rounds had been played and the leagues were tight and entertaining, with one more round to go before the tables were split in half for the run-in to the finish.
It seemed a realistic possibility at the time that the competitions would still be concluded and out of the way before Christmas, even if it meant teams playing into December.
They wouldn’t have batted an eyelid about that either given their desire to play games.
However, now it looks increasingly likely that the 2020 season might not be finished at all.
Generally, the Mayo Leagues get underway in March and run throughout the summer and into Autumn as the various cup competitions take place.
But with six outstanding league fixtures hanging over clubs now, the possibility of playing them consecutively into the 2021 season is something that may be forced on both Mayo league officials and players; something that will be extremely demanding in terms of time.
Either way, leaving players and managers in limbo for this long — even allowing for the current circumstances — isn’t acceptable and the FAI really need to provide clarity to its various governing bodies, members and players as soon as possible.