Published: 17:20 | 19/3/20

Ireland stars donate to LOI cause


Republic of Ireland internationals including James McClean, Kevin Long and Enda Stevens are among a group who have generously donated €25,000 towards an emergency fund to help League of Ireland players during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Integrity Sports, the sports agency run by former Arsenal player Graham Barrett whose clients include McClean, Stevens and Long, announced the donation on Thursday.

With all football activity suspended nationwide until March 29th at the earliest because of the COVID-19 crisis, many clubs around the country are struggling to meet wage bills and other operating costs.

First Division Drogheda United suspended payments to staff and players last Monday, while Premier League side Sligo Rovers announced the temporary lay-off of all staff earlier today in an attempt to protect long-term employment at the club.

It is likely that many more clubs will be forced to take similar action over the coming weeks.

More clubs will almost certainly be forced to follow suit.

"Over the past few days, I have been in conversation with a number of my clients from Integrity Sports about how they and I would like to help people," Barrett said in a statement.

"The challenge for us was trying to identify where best to begin because right now, there are so many deserving cases and so many people in need.

"Together, we have decided (to offer) what little help we can to an industry very close to our hearts, the health and welfare of the people within the League of Ireland. The league is where most of Integrity Sport's international clients like James McClean, Enda Stevens, Kevin Long, Gavin Bazunu etc. began their careers and their opportunities were born here.

"Others like Jack Byrne and Graham Burke credit the League of Ireland clubs and the people they have dealt with in the league as the reason they have now also become senior internationals.

"As of today, we have raised €25,000. This money will be put towards an Emergency Fund to be used by Noel (Byrne, Shamrock Rovers' official and chair of the National League Executive Committee) and the NLEC in conjunction with Stephen McGuinness and Ollie Cahill of the PFAI, to aid players who will undoubtedly need assistance in the coming weeks.

"We know that this money is not a solution in itself and we have made the gesture because we have all benefited from being involved with the League of Ireland and recognise that the league's survival is imperative to the continued progression of football within this country."

Image: INPHO

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