`Dublin Dons on way' Hammam
WIMBLEDON Governor Sam Hammam last night reiterated his intention to bring Premiership Football to Dublin, 24 hours after FIFA put the ball firmly in the court of the FAI.
``FIFA's decision at their congress in Paris on Monday was an acknowledgement that we have a special case. It was clarification that they won't block the move if it is accepted by the FAI,'' Hammam told Eamon Dunphy on Today FM.
Describing the FAI's opposition to the move as ``misguided,'' Hammam claimed that FIFA had written a letter to Wimbledon saying they would be prepared to preside over a meeting between the FAI and the club.
``Once the FAI and the English FA agree, they (FIFA) will support it,'' said Hammam. ``As recently as last week, the English Premier League clubs gave their backing to our plans. The English FA have no objections either provided the FAI agree to us going to Dublin.''
``That is the only obstacle in our path and we are confident we can overcome it without having to go to the courts. A legal row is something we want to avoid,'' he said.
In a separate statement, issued on behalf of Hammam, and Cork businessman Owen O'Callaghan, who wants to build a new stadium for Wimbledon in Dublin, the option of court action was made clear.
``In all probability, the Wimbledon project will prevail in the courts if that course is undertaken. Our choice, however, is still to work in harmony with the FAI and seek their support,'' it read.
The Dublin soccer fans who become goggle-eyed watching the World Cup finals from France on TV over the next month, will have an opportunity of seeing games live in the new Harp Super Cup tournament, starting on July 1, writes Charlie Stuart.
The novel £20,000 tournament involves the country's top clubs St Patrick's Athletic, Cork City, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers.
The first match at Santry's Morton Stadium will see FAI Cup holders Cork City take on Shamrock Rovers. The following night (July 2) there will be an all-Dublin clash between Shelbourne and newly-crowned Premier Division champions St Patrick's Athletic, also at Morton Stadium
``The main reason for staging this tournament is to help our clubs prepare for their involvement in the respective European Club competitions,'' said FAI National League president Michael Hyland.
Unfortunately, that comes too late for Shamrock Rovers who play their InterToto cup games against Turkish side Izmir on June 21 with the return at Tolka Park on June 28.
But there will be no lack of commitment for this new top four tournament with £10,000 to the winners, £5000 to the runners-up, the winners of the third place playoff receiving £3,000 and £2,000 for the team finishing fourth.
The final takes place on Sunday July 5 at Tolka Park at 4.0pm, with the third-placed play-off at 2pm.
Yesterday's Harp Lager National League awards saw a total of 14 presentations in five categories fair play, leading goalscorers, media, referees and special awards.
Despite being relegated, Kilkenny City collected the Premier Division award in the fair play category, with Athlone Town taking top place in the First Division.
Premier Division leading goal scorer Stephen Geoghegan, who scored 17 goals last season, collected the top award for the fourth time in five years. In the First Division, Galway United's Fergal Coleman took the top honour with 13 goals.
Irish Independent soccer correspondent Philip Quinn was a popular winner of the Soccer Writer of The Year award in acknowledgement to his contribution in the promotion of the sport.
Leo Dunne of the Waterford News and Star received the Hall of Fame award for his distinguished services to soccer over many years.
Special presentations were made to referees Michael Tomney and Sean Brady, both of whom retired at the end of the season.
The Groundsman of the Year award was presented to Joe McGowan of Finn Harps for the excellent condition of the Ballybofey pitch throughout the season.
Perhaps the most acclaimed award went to Bray-based Tom Symons, who received the Supporter of the Year award.
Cork-born Symons is a regular traveller to games throughout the country from the Brandywell to Turners Cross. His devotion to the game knows no limit.
Former Shamrock Rovers keeper, Alan O'Neill and Shelbourne defender Mick Neville who have both played over 500 National league games also received special awards.
And there were presentations to RTE's John Creedon and David Hammond who were both influential members of the National League's structure sub-committee.