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Coronavirus: The key questions as Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off rescheduled for June as finals pushed back to 2021


Steven Davis is now set to lead Northern Ireland out against Bosnia & Herzegovinia in June.

Steven Davis is now set to lead Northern Ireland out against Bosnia & Herzegovinia in June.

@INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

Steven Davis is now set to lead Northern Ireland out against Bosnia & Herzegovinia in June.

Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 play-offs have been rescheduled for June this year while the tournament's finals are postponed for one year after discussions at UEFA's emergency meeting.

European football's governing body hosted a conference call with all 55 of the member nations, the board of the European Club Association and the board of the European Leagues.

Northern Ireland's play-off semi-final against Bosnia and Herzegovinia, and then the final between the winners of that tie and the game between Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland, are now scheduled to take place in the international break set for June 1-9, 2020.

That, however, is subject to a review of the situation.

The rescheduled Euro 2020 finals will now take place from June 11 to July 11, 2021.

What does it mean for Michael O'Neill?

The Irish FA and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill are due to hold discussions over his position after Tuesday's UEFA meetings.

It had been suggested that, with the delay to the play-off fixtures, O'Neill would not take charge of another Northern Ireland match.

However, given the relatively short scheduled delay, hopes will be high that the Stoke City boss will stay on the try and guide his international side to the finals.

What does it mean for domestic football?

The move has been made, in order to free up time for the current domestic leagues across Europe to finish their 19/20 campaigns.

Should the seasons not be played to a finish, there is the potential for legal challenges from clubs.

Hearts owner Ann Budge, for example, has already confirmed that she would take legal action if her side is relegated from the Scottish Premiership without the remaining eight games of the campaign being played.

As a result, it is understood that the priority for Europe's member nations is playing out the current domestic seasons, although even with the Euro 2020 decision, this is far from certain.

According to Spanish publication Marca, UEFA hope to restart domestic leagues in mid-April and complete the main club competitions before the end of June.

The finals of the Europa League and Champions League will be played in the space of three days in June, the Europa League on Wednesday 24th and the Champions League decider in Istanbul on Saturday 27th.

Further announcements are expected regarding this season's Champions League and Europa League campaigns.

What does it mean for future international competitions?

Euro 2020 (or Euro 2021, as it will become) is set to be played in 12 host cities across the continent, including Dublin.

Should Northern Ireland come through their play-off path to reach the finals, two of their group games were due to be played in Dublin's Aviva Stadium, with the other against Spain in Bilbao.

How the rescheduling impacts on scheduling and venues at the finals remains to be seen.

The Women's European Championships, due to be played in England starting July 7 next year, are set to be moved, as are the men's Under 21 European Championships.

There could also be knock-on effects, too, for the UEFA Nations League, which is due to be played in autumn of this year, with Northern Ireland pitted against Austria, Norway and Romania.

Depending on how long the coronavirus-induced pause to the sporting calendar lasts, the Nations League could potentially be the loser in order to free up those six match-dates for domestic football to catch up.

The exact ramifications, though, are yet to be known, except that the Nations League finals, scheduled for March 2021, will be rescheduled.

The Irish FA will also be keen to hear if any decision has been made about the 2020 European Under-19 Championship finals which are scheduled to be hosted in Northern Ireland.

The eight-team Uefa tournament is down to be played between July 19 and August 1 with matches in Belfast, Ballymena, Lurgan and Portadown.

Already next month's draw for the Under-19 competition, supposed to take place in the Titanic building, has been cancelled and there is a fear that the finals will go the same way.

Belfast Telegraph