Fair Play gives Drogs and Galway Europa lifeline
Published 23/01/2010 | 05:00
DROGHEDA United or Galway United could receive an unlikely lifeline into European competition after it emerged that the League of Ireland is within touching distance of securing an extra Europa League place through the medium of Fair Play.
The latest figures released by UEFA put Ireland in fifth place in the UEFA Respect Fair Play Rankings, just 0.01 points behind third-placed England.
The top three countries get an additional spot in Europe's second competition. Sweden and Denmark currently top the list.
Those rankings are determined by club and national team performances in UEFA competitions until April 30, under criteria such as positive play, respect for the opponent, respect for the referee, behaviour of the crowd and team officials, as well as cautions and dismissals.
Ireland have just one senior international -- against Brazil -- between now and then, while several English teams remain in European club competitions.
However, the final coefficient is drawn from an average mark.
If Ireland do manage to overtake fourth-placed Finland and then England to enter the top three, it would swell their number of participants in the Europa League to four.
The highest-ranked side in the League of Ireland's Fair Play table would be the lucky recipient, but with first and second placed Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers already qualified for Europe, the next best are Drogheda and Galway, who finished joint third in the discipline stakes for 2009.
The FAI have confirmed that a draw would take place to determine which side would capitalise in the event of that scenario developing.
Meanwhile, Cork City yesterday confirmed that they have parted company with talented midfielder Billy Dennehy, who is on the radar of Shamrock Rovers and Hartlepool United -- with other suitors also hovering.
A cancellation of contract was mutual agreed between the ex-Sunderland midfielder and the troubled Leesiders.
Cork owner Tom Coughlan is understood to be considering an offer to sell the club this weekend, with an interested buyer working in conjunction with financial advisors Quintas believed to be ready to step into the breach.
However, any takeover is subject to Coughlan writing off some of the money that he has pumped into the Leesiders.
The Leesiders are in real danger of missing out on a Premier Division licence for 2010, with the end of the month approaching and substantial amounts of money owed to creditors.