Given the uncertainty surrounding football, Esker Celtic will keep this page as up-to-date as possible.

DDSL Update – 18-05-2020

Firstly can we start by putting on the record our admiration and appreciation of the tremendous work being done by all our members on the front line, across all the daily services, ensuring our safety and some sense of normality in challenging times.To all the clubs who have done trojan work in raising funds for a variety of different charities, excellent work. Sadly in excess of 1500 people have passed away due to the virus and if your club has been touched by this can we offer our sympathy and condolences to all concerned.

Over the past weekend the HSE and FAI have issued a roadmap for our sport. The tremendous and thankless work being done by Dr Alan Byrne and his team is to be acknowledged and appreciated. However it should be noted that the DDSL is not the Bundesliga, where private clinics are on standby twice a week to test players, or is it akin to the professional arm of the FAI where the players will be cocooned, tested and play behind closed doors. (It should be noted we wish the mini tournament every success). No we are the Dublin & District Schoolboys/Girls League whose mantra is to try and ensure players, referees, fixture secretaries, administrators, managers, coaches, colleagues, neighbours, the man and his dog enjoy the game to the best of everyone’s ability in a reasonably safe and comfortable environment. Our stage is in the main council and public parks across the length and breadth of Dublin, into Wicklow, Meath, Kildare and as far afield as our colleagues in Athlone and Drogheda.(​The Real Grassroots).

We must be realistic, it is really hard to see how, as long as social distancing is remains in place, we can resume. However we must be both optimistic and pragmatic. Be assured that the health, care and welfare of players and volunteer constituents are always paramount and our priority. With that in mind the League has decided on the following.

The League season 2019/2020 will cease from Monday 18th May.

Road Map to the opening of 2020/2021 DDSL Season.

The return to training on 20th July is a resumption under strict protocols. They will be finalised by the HSE/FAI medical teams and will be issued to all our clubs.

It will possibly be training in very small groups, maybe only 5, no contact, distancing rules apply, however guidelines with these details will be issued to everyone before that date. This will not be standard training as we once knew it.

Resumption to collective training on 10th August will be for the entire team to train together. Again, there will be advice issued around this to help Leagues and Clubs with what is expected.

Normal full squad training cannot resume until 10th August.

Our tentative return date to commence the new 2020/2021 season is the weekend of September 12th 2020 for all age groups under our jurisdiction.

Dates re registration and team formations will be advised in due course and will naturally be subject to HSE and NPHET guidelines. Prior to the tentative recommencement date, the League administrators will be working with all the bodies to ensure a safe return to football when appropriate and will liaise with clubs when applicable.

***(All dates are subject to direction from HSE and NPHET)***

These are unprecedented times we are living in and so we ask all clubs to adhere to the guidelines set out by the HSE and FAI.Please remember everybody’s safety is paramount despite our longing to return. We will keep you updated as soon as information becomes available.

FAI Statement – 15/05/2020

The Football Association of Ireland is committed to a return to football for all players, staff, match officials, administrators, volunteers and supporters as soon as it is safe and possible under the guidance of the HSE, the Department of Health, Sport Ireland, NHPET and UEFA.

The FAI remains in communication with all Government agencies regarding protocols around a pathway for a safe return to football in the SSE Airtricity League, Women’s National League, adult amateur and underage football, incorporating all affiliates.

The health and safety of all stakeholders is at the core of all FAI decisions in relation to a safer return to football and remains subject to change on the advice of Government agencies, UEFA and the FAI Medical Team, led by Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

Dr Byrne has been appointed by Sport Ireland to the Medical Advisory Group, established to review the various sporting protocols for a return to action. Dr Byrne’s priority as a member of the Medical Advisory Group is to provide a pathway for a return to action for all strands of football that is acceptable to all Government agencies and regarded as safe for all participants. 

“The only certainty around a return to football during this COVID-19 pandemic is the uncertainty,” said Dr Byrne. “As Medical Director of the Football Association of Ireland, I must look at any planned return to football from a medical viewpoint, with the health and safety of everyone concerned to the forefront in any decision making.

“My advice to clubs is not to return to training when we enter Phase One of the Government Roadmap on Monday, May 18, not to open their grounds and pitches, even to groups of four, and not to consider collective training or playing football until the medical evidence suggests otherwise.

“Decisive actions by our clubs now, will improve the chances of a safer return to football for everyone. We must take small and deliberate steps before we can allow all football to return. My recommendation to the FAI is to begin with a pilot programme on June 8 for the four SSE Airtricity League teams who have qualified for European football. This will allow us to analyse every step of their journey back to football, beginning with a safe return to training.

“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 all football, one that can be approved by all Government agencies and UEFA. We all want football back in our lives but it is not worth risking one life by rushing to get our game back.” 

DIRECTIVES TO FACILITATE A SAFER RETURN FOR ALL FOOTBALL

The Football Association of Ireland has made the following decisions:

SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE

  • The cessation of all football under the jurisdiction of the FAI is extended to July 20th with the exception of SSE Airtricity League clubs and UEFA Women’s Champion’s League representatives, Peamount United.
  • All clubs are advised not to facilitate any organized training, including in groups of up to four, under Phase One of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business.
  • Four SSE Airtricity League clubs – Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and Bohemians – will be invited to return to training initially followed by a return to playing, in a behind closed doors tournament, as part of a pilot programme for a return to football for everyone.
  • Players and staff from the four invited SSE Airtricity League clubs will undergo regular COVID-19 testing from May 26.
  • The four invited SSE Airtricity League clubs can return to collective training on June 8th.
  • These four clubs will participate in a four-team tournament at a neutral venue, ahead of their European Club competition games in late July/ early August.
  • The four-team tournament will provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to learn in the current environment from these games, thus providing a safer template for SSE Airtricity League, International games and all football going forward.
  • All other SSE Airtricity League squads can return to collective training on June 29th under Phase Three of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business, with players and staff undergoing regular COVID-19 testing.
  • The FAI Medical Team will provide a detailed and transparent analysis of the testing results to stakeholders, Government agencies and UEFA on an ongoing basis.

​WOMEN’S NATIONAL LEAGUE, ADULT AMATEUR, UNDERAGE AND ALL OTHER AFFILIATED FOOTBALL

  • All clubs are advised not to facilitate any organized training, including in groups of up to four, under Phase One of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business.
  • The FAI Steering Group will monitor the pilot programme for the four invited SSE Airtricity League clubs, to be launched on June 8th, and will use all information gathered in the preparation of a protocol document for a return for all adult amateur and underage football.
  • The cessation of all football activities under the jurisdiction of the FAI is extended to July 20th for all affiliates, with the exception of SSE Airtricity League clubs and UEFA Women’s Champions League representatives, Peamount United.
  • A decision on Peamount United’s return to training will be made once dates are known for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
  • Under Phase Four of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business, all adult amateur and underage clubs can begin their return to training programmes from July 20, subject to FAI protocols to be agreed with Government agencies.
  • Under Phase Five of the Government’s Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business, all adult amateur and underage clubs can return to full collective training from August 10.
  • All adult amateur and underage clubs can return to playing from August 28.
  • A pilot tournament for the Women’s National League, including Peamount United, will be launched once dates are known for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
  • A pilot programme for adult amateur and underage football will be launched on August 14 and run until August 28.
  • Regional, provincial and national competitions in season 2019/20 can return from August 28 with FAI approval.
  • Winter Leagues wishing to complete their 2019/20 season will be given the option of applying to the FAI, via their affiliates, for an extension to their season until October 11.
  • Applications from Winter Leagues looking to complete the 2019/20 season must be made to the FAI by June 15 with details to be forwarded to affiliates from the Steering Group by May 22.
  • Winter Leagues not wishing to complete their 2019/20 season can start their new 2020/21 season on October 16. 2020 Summer Leagues can return on August 28 and will be provided with support to create a shortened schedule to run up to December 13.
  • All decisions around a return to collective training and playing for all adult amateur and underage football, will be based on the health and safety of all players, coaches, match officials, administrators and club volunteers.
  • All decisions will be subject to change on the advice of Government agencies, UEFA and the FAI Medical Team, led by Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne.

FAI Statement – 13/05/2020

The Football Association of Ireland’s Steering Group has highlighted three key areas around return to play protocols for the amateur adult and underage game, which have been submitted to Government officials.

The FAI Steering Group met again on Monday to discuss the conditions necessary to facilitate a safe and timely return for all amateur adult and underage players, match officials and volunteers.

The latest meeting followed further consultation with stakeholders in the wake of the publication of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAI now awaits a response from Government as it seeks guidance on the following issues:

  • A clear policy to manage all risks for volunteers around a return to play and to ensure a safe environment for all participants
     
  • Clarity on the effects of social distancing on contact sport as per the phases outlined in the Government’s Roadmap
     
  • Guidance on the infrastructural costs for amateur adult and underage clubs around safe return to play protocols

Steering Group Facilitator Ger McDermott said: “We await a response from Government, having submitted a series of key questions to Sport Ireland around a safe return to play for everyone involved in amateur adult and underage football.

“We again advise all affiliates to postpone any decisions on a return to training or football until the Government responds. The Steering Group will then meet to consider the outcome of that response.

“Only then can we issue clear guidelines to our clubs, leagues and all affiliates on a safe return to training and playing. We thank them all for their patience to date and for continuing to abide by HSE guidelines.”