GAA, FAI and IRFU release joint statement on fans returning to stadiums

The three biggest sporting bodies in Ireland have released a joint statement regarding the government's new guidelines for spectators in stadiums.

The FAI, GAA and IRFU said following the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-21: Plan for Living with COVID-19, a working group has been set up to collaborate on a roadmap for the safe return of spectators to stadiums.

In a statement they said "The group, which will include representatives of Sport Ireland and will be chaired by Martin Murphy, Stadium Director of Aviva Stadium, will develop a common set of guidelines and protocols by working with the Statutory Authorities essential to the safe delivery of major sporting events."

With the country currently at Level 2 of the government's roadmap, outdoor training can take place in pods of up to 15, with exemptions for professional, inter-county and senior club championship teams.

Indoor training meanwhile, including exercise and dance classes, can take place in pods of up to six with the same exemptions.

Finally, at matches and events, up to 100 spectators can attend outdoors and 50 indoors. Up to 200 spectators will be permitted for venues with a capacity of at least 5,000.

International best practice

In the statement all three bodies said they will engage with Government agencies on "considerations and parameters" applying to the number of people permitted at outdoor public gatherings.

They will also look at international best practice as well as "learnings from governing bodies" who run spectator ‘return’ programmes over the past number of months.

They will then present their plan to the Sport Expert Group, set up by Sport Ireland.

Speaking about the announcement, group chair, Martin Murphy, said, “Sport plays a hugely important role in Irish society and by working together the FAI, GAA, and the IRFU will bring their collective expertise and learning to develop a roadmap for the safe return of spectators to the sports events they love and miss deeply.

"The number one consideration for this group is to seek a series of protocols which would allow spectators back into sporting fixtures in a safe way, while complying fully with Government Health guidelines.

"Spectators are more than fans, they are an intrinsic part of any sporting occasion; they are the family and friends of the men and women who are representing their town, their county, their province or their country. They are part of the sporting culture of our nation which is so critically important to our overall wellbeing.”