Galway launch overshadowed by row over unpaid wages
THE PFAI believe that all League of Ireland clubs have settled their wage bills for 2013 but are unhappy that former Galway United players are still owed money as the new Galway FC was launched last night.
Players' union chief Stephen McGuinness says that, for the first time in seven years, there are no wage issues hanging over the Christmas period.
McGuinness feels that a general drop in pay has led to greater stability and noted that clubs are doing their business earlier for 2014, although there are still 150 players on their transfer list.
He was speaking at the launch of the PFAI training camp ahead of January's FIFPro Winter Tournament in Oslo. Former Ireland international and experienced coach Liam O'Brien is in charge of this year's selection of out-of-contract players.
"Things are better," said McGuinness. "We know wages have dropped but there's a lot more stability within our league. Players would argue they would like to get more money but it is much better for contracts to be honoured."
McGuinness admitted to having mixed feelings at the arrival of Galway FC. Former Galway United players are still out of pocket, with Bohemians' Karl Moore going public on his anger, pointing out that the Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST), who were part of the fraught final days of the old club, are involved with the new set-up.
"It's tricky," said McGuinness. "Legally there is nothing we can do.
"Galway coming into the league is good from the perspective that they offer football for the players in the area. But we paid vital bills for a number of (Galway United) players who were owed money."
Meanwhile, McGuinness does not believe that the integrity of the First Division will be affected by the proposed presence of a Shamrock Rovers 'B' side. Fears have been expressed that a Hoops 'B' team would be of varied strength from week to week, with players dropping down from the first team, which could have implications for those sides chasing promotion.
McGuinness, however, thinks it can work. "It's adventurous," he said. "It will be interesting to see if they will have an U-19 team – that's the key. For licensing, you've got to have an U-19 team, so I don't know what hurdle they have to jump."
Speaking at the Galway launch, John Delaney confirmed that the FAI would prefer to operate with an eight-team First Division and said the Rovers application – which would bring the second tier up to that number – would be "judged on its merits".
Delaney welcomed the overdue construction of a single team in Galway after Mervue and Salthill Devon stepped aside to form a union with GUST and the Galway FA. "The stakeholders understand how they are going to work together," he said. "This is a new era and it's exciting."
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