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FAI braced for financial hit of half-capacity Aviva Stadium for Portugal clash next month

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The FAI are braced for the financial hit of missing out on a payday for next month’s World Cup qualifier at home if the Government does not lift Covid restrictions on crowds, leaving the Aviva Stadium with a 50 per cent capacity yet again.

crowd of 25,749 for Tuesday’s win over Qatar was a sell-out for the FAI, under that 50 per cent restriction. It was hoped that all restrictions would be lifted in time for Portugal’s visit to Dublin on November 11, allowing the FAI raise their ticket prices up from €20 for the Qatar game to the standard level.

The FAI had match-related income of €8.1m in 2019, when Ireland played six home games (four competitive) but that shrank to just €300,00 last year as games were played behind closed doors.

A full house of 50,000 fans would have given the debt-ridden association a major boost but there are fears that, due to prevailing Covid conditions, the 50 per cent cap will remain in place.

“Hopefully we will have a full house on November 11. It would be great to get those nights back,” FAI president Gerry McAnaney said in Belfast yesterday.

“We’ll just go with whatever Government says, we’ll just roll with it. It’s got us to where we are. We’re quite happy to stick with the best advice. If it’s not to be 50,000, it’s not to be 50,000. We just roll with it.”

McAnaney, the first FAI official to speak publicly since the most recent international window, said Stephen Kenny’s contract would be reviewed but he was upbeat about recent form under Kenny.

“All of those things will be done at board (level) in November,” he said, adding that he had seen progress on the field.

“Listen, all you have to do is look on the pitch. 25,000 people will tell you that the other night. There was positivity. It was there for everyone to see, things are moving on.”

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