The League of Ireland is set to pause for international breaks next year in a change that will mean the shortening of the off-season and an earlier start.
ast weekend, just one Premier Division game went ahead on account of U21 international call-ups and, with home based players now peppered across the various underage squads, changes are planned to the schedule to adjust to this new reality.
Proposed plans will see the league break for international windows in March, June and September with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in late November and December altering the regular international schedule.
The June stoppage will effectively become the new mid-season break, thus meaning those players on international duty will play through the entire season.
As a consequence, it’s expected the new Premier Division season will start on Friday February 11 and finish on Friday November 18 – although alternative closing dates have been discussed.
Before Covid, the league finished at the end of October with a mid-February start – although as recently as 2016 it was a March-October schedule.
It means clubs who favour 40/42 week contracts having to commit to longer term deals under a stretched out schedule.
Yet this is viewed as the best case scenario with fixture lists in international windows decimated by postponements.
Another complication was that current league rules state that calling off games on account of international calls is only permitted when players are wanted by Ireland or Northern Ireland.
This frustrated Dundalk who had to play league games without Raivis Jurkovskis (Latvia), Sonni Nattestad (Faroe Islands) and Wilfried Zahibo (Central African Republic)
Shamrock Rovers also had to cope without Cape Verde international Roberto Lopes but that issue is resolved going forward.