League of Ireland: FAI propose four-team tournament as part of 'pilot programme'

League of Ireland
The League of Ireland has been suspended since 12 March

Derry City are among four League of Ireland teams invited to participate in a behind closed doors tournament as part of the Football Association of Ireland's pilot programme for a return to football.

The idea comes as part of the FAI's 'pathway for a safer return to football' which was revealed on Friday night.

As part of last season's top four, Derry are being offered regular Covid-19 testing from May 26, with a view to return to team training on 8 June.

According to the roadmap, the Candystripes would play in a tournament alongside Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians at a neutral venue before next season's European tournaments begin in late July.

The FAI intends to use the tournament to inform future decision making on bringing back football.

"The information we will gather from that pilot programme will be invaluable for all players, at all levels of the game, as we look to establish a safer pathway to a return for football," said FAI Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

"We all want football back in our lives but it is not worth risking one life by rushing to get our game back,".

The 2020 season was suspended on 12 March with teams having played just four or five matches each.

Other decisions relayed in the FAI's roadmap are that all football under the governing body's jurisdiction, with the exception of the pilot tournament and Women's Champions League representatives Peamount United, will remain postponed until 20 July.

It is hoped that the league's other teams can return to training on June 29, when the Irish government will hope to move to phase three of their own roadmap aimed at safely bringing them out of the current lockdown.

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