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Coronavirus: Irish League matches to be played this weekend while junior football and other sports postponed


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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

Northern Ireland Football League matches are set to be played as scheduled this weekend.

The body, which runs the top three divisions of domestic football in Northern Ireland, announced on Thursday evening that games would go ahead as planned, in line with advice from the UK Government.

Four Danske Bank Premiership matches look set to be played as scheduled, although Linfield's game against Larne at Windsor Park has already been postponed after a Blues' player tested positive for covid-19 while a further announcement will be made for Institute's game against Cliftonville at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Derry City's match at the same venue, scheduled for Friday evening, has been postponed in line with Football Association of Ireland directives, postponing all games until March 29.

However, NIFL has adopted a different stance, in line with UK government advice and the English Premier League, which is set to proceed as planned this weekend.

"At this stage all scheduled fixtures under the jurisdiction of the NI Football League will continue to take place as scheduled in line with the latest UK government advice unless, operationally, it becomes untenable to do so," read a NIFL statement.

"We have been in communication with Derry City & Strabane District Council regarding the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. We will provide a further update tomorrow regarding the arrangements for the Institute v Cliftonville fixture.

"The NI Football League will continue to monitor government guidance and work with relevant stakeholders to further develop contingency plans to ensure the League is best placed to act as and when any potential restrictions may come into force."

As well as the four Premiership games due to be played this weekend, there are six Championship fixtures and five Premier Intermediate League matches that are expected to go ahead.

Other junior and intermediate leagues in Northern Ireland, however, have postponed games.

The Northern Amateur Football League has suspended action across the next two weekends as a 'small number' of clubs have confirmed that players are being tested for covid-19. The NAFL stressed that none of those tests have so far returned positive.

"As part of preserving health and safety, we are reliant on playing staff, coaches etc taking sensible precautions based on where they might have travelled, contact with others and hand hygiene," said chairman Terry Pateman.

The Down Area League has suspended all fixtures and meetings indefinitely after a player who took part in a game last Saturday is being tested for the coronavirus. The two clubs involved in the game have been notified.

The Mid Ulster Football League has suspended all football for this weekend although said the situation would be monitored on a daily basis.

Sport in Northern Ireland has been decimated with rugby, hockey and GAA's Irish governing bodies suspending all activity until March 29.

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