The Irish Football Association will receive a welcome cash boost from Fifa to help survive the financial turbulence sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Like most organisations, the Irish FA have had to make financial savings while football clubs are facing a battle for survival if the game doesn't return in the coming months.
Both the Association and several clubs have needed to use the UK government's scheme of financial support.
Linfield, Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon, Glentoran, Institute and Warrenpoint have used the furlough scheme.
The coronavirus lockdown will continue to hit revenues but clubs have received money from Uefa as part of a pre-arranged payment that was brought forward and this additional cash boost from Fifa is very welcome.
Fifa are releasing around $150m (£121m) to their national associations.
The game's world governing body said each of their 211 member countries would receive $500,000 (£405,124) in the coming days plus any entitlement under the Forward 2.0 development programme.
It was confirmed yesterday that the Irish FA has extended its suspension of football in Northern Ireland until May 31.
IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson has also called on the NI Executive to offer financial support to clubs during the health crisis.
"This support from Fifa is welcome at a financially challenging time," stated an Irish FA source.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino described the financial support as the “first step” in a wider plan to assist those struggling due to Covid-19.
“The pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for the entire football community and, as the world governing body, it is Fifa’s duty to be there and support the ones that are facing acute needs,” he said.
“This starts by providing immediate financial assistance to our member associations, many of which are experiencing severe financial distress. This is the first step of a far-reaching financial relief plan we are developing to respond to the emergency across the whole football community.”
Fifa said the money represented operational funding for 2019 and 2020. Under normal circumstances, the associations would only receive full funding upon fulfilment of specific criteria such as the organisation of a set number of men’s, women’s and youth competitions, but were providing it to protect members.
Fifa said the next stages of their financial relief plan are being worked on.
The world governing body are reported to have cash reserves of around $2.7bn (almost £2.2bn).
Meanwhile, the Irish FA yesterday confirmed the award of Uefa, Premiership, Promotion and Championship Licences for the 2020-21 season.
As well as the 12 Premiership clubs receiving licences, promotion club licences were granted to Ards (Bangor Fuels Arena, Bangor) Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades, H&W Welders (Dixon Park, Ballyclare), Loughgall (Stangmore Park, Dungannon) Newry City AFC and Portadown.
Uefa licences were awarded to Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Glentoran, Larne and Linfield.
• The O’Neills Foyle Cup will not be taking place this summer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the organisers confirmed that the popular international tournament was unable to proceed on July 20-25.
It read: “We have been closely monitoring the implications for our annual event over the course of recent months, and with restrictions on mass gatherings and social distancing, sporting events and wider travel arrangements likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, understandably the tournament cannot take place.
“Our No.1 priority is that everyone stays safe from the potentially devastating effects of Covid-19.”