FAI welcomes IFSP Supporters Survey on Return to Watch
The survey, led out by the Irish Supporters Network (ISN) on behalf of the umbrella fans organisation and supported by the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs (CRISC) and YBIG Independent Supporters Mandate, supports a return for spectators at the earliest opportunity with fans ready to comply with all Government guidelines to facilitate a safe return.
Almost 100% of the supporters who took part in the survey said they are willing to adhere to public health guidance and stadium protocols to facilitate a limited return for fans as soon as it is safe to do so with 89.3% of respondents in support of a public awareness campaign amongst the football community if it helps to re-open stadia across the country.
As the League of Ireland prepares to return on Friday night with the President’s Cup meeting of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk behind closed doors at Tallaght Stadium, the majority of fans pledged financial support for their clubs as the most popular priority around a Return to Watch.
Safety measures backed by the fans surveyed included a requirement to wear masks, phased exits from the grounds and assigned seating.
Of those who took part in the survey, over a quarter were able to attend League of Ireland matches when crowds were limited last summer and comments received showed a strong commendation for clubs and their adherence to FAI Protocols.
“This report is most welcome and most timely as we prepare for the return of SSE Airtricity Premier Division, First Division and Women’s National League football,” said League of Ireland Director Mark Scanlon.
“We have recently presented a report on a safe Return to Watch strategy to Government in conjunction with the IRFU and the GAA and the data contained in this survey supports our belief that fans can return in a safe and secure manner once the current COVID-19 lockdown eases.
“Our League of Ireland clubs worked really hard to complete our Leagues last season and to read the endorsement of the fans for all the measures undertaken is a testament to the work of all concerned. We all look forward to the Friday nights when we can attend League of Ireland football together again and we thank the Irish Football Supporters Partnership for undertaking this survey and producing such valuable results.”
Niamh O’Mahony, Secretary of the Irish Supporters Network (ISN), added: “The vast majority of supporters want to return as soon as they possibly can and are hugely supportive of any public health guidance and the stadia protocols that will allow that to happen. ISN, CRISC and YBIG Mandate have been meeting with the FAI regularly on this issue to ensure the voice of supporters is heard and taken into account in the ongoing Return to Watch programme.
“Feedback from the games in the second half of 2020 was really positive in terms of the clubs implementing public health measures and ensuring fixtures were run in a safe and organised manner. The data also speaks for itself - not a single Covid-19 outbreak was linked to League of Ireland games or training in 2020, and clubs, volunteers and supporters can all take credit for that.”
The IFSP survey and press release can be accessed here.