1. ITV Report

Northern Ireland and Republic's Euro 2020 qualifiers postponed 'indefinitely'

Northern Ireland were due to play Bosnia and Herzegovina. Credit: Pacemaker

The Euro 2020 play-off ties featuring Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been indefinitely postponed.

The semi-final and final ties, originally due to be played last month, had been pushed back until June due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Europe.

However, the decision has been taken to delay the matches indefinitely. The play-offs will determine the final four participants at Euro 2020, which will now not start until 11 June 2021.

Northern Ireland are due to face Bosnia-Herzegovina while the Republic are up against Slovakia.

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All UEFA competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, are indefinitely postponed but that comes as no surprise with the finals of both competitions called off with no new dates yet allocated.

It is understood the national associations were presented with a variety of options for the resumption of domestic league action by a fixtures working group during the call, but no decision was made because it remains very difficult to predict how long the disruption will last.

In the event that the resumption of domestic football is severely delayed, it is thought it would take precedence over European competition.

Irish Football Association chief executive Patrick Nelson said the decision to postpone matches was “not surprising” given the ferocity of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe at present.

He said: “It would have been good to get the UEFA Euro 2020 play-off semi-final match against Bosnia and Herzegovina played in June, and to have played the Women’s Euro qualifiers, however we are mindful that many European countries are struggling to deal with Covid-19 as are numerous countries around the world.

“This move is not surprising. It is a sensible decision by UEFA in the midst of a global health crisis which has already claimed many, many lives.”

The UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament, scheduled to be played in Northern Ireland in July, has also been postponed until further notice.

In a statement, the Football Association of Ireland said: "The health and safety of everyone connected with football remains of paramount importance to the FAI and we will continue to follow all directives from Government, the Department of Health and UEFA."