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Coronavirus: Irish Football Association suspend all local football until April 4

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The Irish Football Association have announced the suspension of all football until April 3

The Irish Football Association have announced the suspension of all football until April 3

The Irish Football Association have announced the suspension of all football until April 3

The Irish Football Association (IFA) have confirmed that all local football has been suspended until April 4 due to the coronavirus.

While the governing body had initially hoped to continue playing games this weekend, the escalation of the virus' spread has forced the suspension of all games at all levels for the next three weeks.

"The Irish FA Board has met today. In response to the evolving situation around Coronavirus (Covid-19) and having listened to partners throughout the football family, the Board has suspended the current football season, at both domestic and grassroots level," read the Irish FA statement.

"The decision has been made with public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, staff and volunteers front of mind.

"We expect games to restart on Saturday 4 April 2020. The matter will be kept under constant review.

"This means no affiliated football will be played in Northern Ireland until that time."

The news comes after a Linfield player tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-week, while leagues across the United Kingdom and Ireland have also suspended their seasons temporarily.

There were two games remaining until the end-of-season split, with the Blues currently leading the Danske Bank Premiership by four points from Coleraine.

While the league say in their statement that they expect games to resume on April 4, it is believed league officials will meet before that date to determine if that will be the case.

Any further delays would cause significant problems moving forward, particularly with regards to promotion and relegation.

With seven games remaining, only three points separate Warrenpoint Town and Institute in the battle to avoid the automatic relegation place.

In the Championship, Portadown lead the way on 66 points, but Loughgall (62) and Ballinamallard United (60) are also right in the thick of the race for not only the title but automatic promotion to the Premiership.

The Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) added a short statement of their own, saying: "The NI Football League will continue to review the liaise with the Irish Football Association on this matter and provide further updates in due course."

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