Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson has welcomed the publishing of a framework aimed at delivering a safe return to football at all levels and sport in general.
“We are encouraged to see that Sport Northern Ireland has produced its five step return to sport framework plan which builds upon the Northern Ireland Executive’s own published guidance ‘Coronavirus Executive Approach to Decision Making’.
“We had a positive meeting earlier this week with Sport Northern Ireland, Ulster GAA, Ulster Rugby and the Northern Ireland Sports Forum.
“We will follow this up with a request to the Northern Ireland Executive that we all work directly with the necessary government departments such as Communities and Health to further develop our own return-to-playing protocols, building on the Sport Northern Ireland framework, to ensure we have a safe return to football and other sports as quickly and as safely as possible.
“With that in mind it is important that we, as the governing body for football, emphasise that no playing or training should be taking place at this moment in time. We are aware of pockets of activity where individuals and small groups are convening to do this. We understand the desire people have for wanting to get back as quickly as possible, but we urge people to refrain.
“Put simply, the health and wellbeing of all our participants is the primary focus and are central to all the plans we are currently working on which must dovetail into those that the Executive maps out.
“Once the Executive deems it safe to move through each stage of their five stage process, we will get a clearer picture of what a return to football looks like and how we can support our stakeholders, be they players, officials, admin and backroom staff, in doing this in a safe and responsible manner.”