I thank the Chairman and members for the opportunity to address the committee on behalf of the Football Association of Ireland, FAI, and our members across the country. I echo the comments of Mr. Horan and Mr. Browne about all sporting organisations. I address the committee in my role as interim chief executive officer of the association. I am joined, as per the committee's invitation, by Mr. Mark Scanlon, the FAI's newly appointed League of Ireland director and a member of its new senior leadership team. All committee members will have received an information pack from the FAI ahead of the meeting. If further copies are needed, we will arrange that as soon as possible.
Like all national governing bodies for sport, the FAI has had to come to terms in recent months with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our game, our members, our organisation and our finances. Little did any of us know when we announced our first cessation of football on 12 March just how long this pandemic would last and the enormous impact it would have on our game. We immediately focused on three key priorities: what our staff could do to support the public health crisis; how to get back to playing football in a safe environment; and what impact this would have on our financial solvency. I am proud that our staff reacted superbly and got involved with community initiatives on the ground. Some of our development officers delivered medicines in conjunction with our sponsors, Boots, while others worked closely with local authorities to provide real support to the vulnerable in the community who needed it most in the lockdown.
Arguably our most significant contribution was the launch of our home skills video programme where thousands of children and young adults participated on a daily basis, eager to show their best to Niall Quinn, Stephen Kenny, Vera Pauw and the coaching team in the FAI.
Our second priority was working with our key stakeholders on developing a safe pathway for both a return to training and playing football. One of the best and earliest decisions we made, in conjunction with our friends in the GAA, the IRFU, Sport Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, was the creation of an expert medical group where our own Dr. Alan Byrne has played a significant role. This group has played an important role in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic from a sporting perspective and was a crucial step in creating a clear pathway, taking incremental steps supported by medical professionals, for a safer return to football.
Since then, we have issued two further cessation notices, amended and published nine protocols around a safer return to training and a safer return to football, ensured the appointment of Covid-19 compliance officers at every club in Ireland, produced four frequently asked questions videos for our affiliates and players and tested 1,085 international and League of Ireland players, male and female, all with negative results. We have worked with all our members and volunteers to ensure the return of 116 leagues for over 211,000 players across over 12,000 fixtures since football returned to play on 11 July.
As a result of our very successful return to playing football, we are now ready to move to the next stage on our journey to get fans and supporters at all levels back watching live matches in significant numbers. The harsh reality is that our association will not survive financially without fans attending our international and League of Ireland matches. We strongly believe that we can deliver the same standards and protocols for a safe return for our fans in significant numbers. We have already demonstrated that by developing safe, well thought through protocols, delivered with experienced and trained personnel. In this regard, I am particularly concerned about the future financial viability of League of Ireland clubs. They cannot survive without fans attending games. They are almost entirely financially dependent on supporters attending games and we are now entering dangerous territory for them if the current ban on large spectator attendances continues much longer. I know these loyal fans would sign up to any spectator code of conduct to attend matches and keep their clubs alive.
Together with the IRFU and the GAA, we have been working on developing a plan to allow for the safe return of fans to all our stadiums, across all codes, which we will shortly present to the Government through the expert medical group. We are also working with UEFA and FIFA on this project. Next Thursday, UEFA is hosting a pilot test at the Super Cup Final in Budapest when up to 20,000 spectators will attend a live match as Bayern Munich meet Sevilla. We will share the learning and output from this with the expert medical group which we are confident will demonstrate a clear pathway for the return of fans to matches. In the meantime, we will continue to work with the HSE on ensuring that all our games at all levels adhere to the guidelines set down by the Government on Tuesday in the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19 policy document.
As an association, the FAI is proud of the fact that our sport is now played in every corner of Ireland and at every age level. There is not a village in the country that is not a part of the football community in Ireland these days and we take great pride in the contribution our clubs and affiliates make to society. A recent UEFA survey confirmed that the total economic value of football participation in Ireland is €1.13 billion annually. We are really looking forward to hosting Euro 2020 next year with fans attending. It will provide a real boost to the economy when we need it most, with the potential revenue to the Irish economy from the Euros calculated at over €100 million.
Irish football, and the FAI in particular, has faced many challenges in the past 18 months and Covid-19 has only served to increase the significant pressure on all of us who love Irish football to ensure that our game can survive. Getting over 211,000 players back playing is only half the story. Every club in every city, town and village relies on coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and guardians to make those games possible. Every game relies on match officials and grounds staff to ensure the fixtures go ahead and we thank them all for their contributions during a very difficult period. We have gone from one crisis to another through no fault of the hundreds of thousands of these important people who devote valuable time and energy to our great game. We owe it to them to support them, particularly when the going gets tough. It would be very easy for our volunteers to disappear from the responsibilities that go with managing all our requirements in a Covid environment.
In addition, the psychological value of the return of football to so many lives is immeasurable, as our medical director, Dr. Alan Byrne, has outlined in correspondence to the committee. We owe it to all of these people to ensure they have a safe and financially secure football environment to look forward to.
Unfortunately, the financial cost of Covid-19 to the association is serious and, for the second time, we need the support of the Oireachtas. These Houses have always supported Irish football and we thank their Members for that support over many years. We really appreciate the support already provided by Sport Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in keeping the association solvent but this time we are not responsible and we are not alone. That is why we have applied this week for support funding of €19.2 million from Sport Ireland via the Government resilience fund for sport. Members will learn more about the financial impact of Covid-19 in the documentation sent to the committee prior to this meeting and I am happy to answer any further questions.
The safety and health of all our stakeholders remains of paramount importance to our association and has come first in any decisions made on our journey to date. Finally, on behalf of the FAI, I would like to thank a number of people and bodies when I have the opportunity. I thank Sport Ireland, the Ministers and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for their great support over the crisis period. I also put on public record my thanks to all the staff in the FAI for the great work they do every day to support our members. Most importantly, I sincerely thank all front-line workers for their significant contribution to our country over the last six months. Without them we would not be here today talking about a safe return to our games for spectators now that football is up and running again. I thank the committee for the invitation to present today.