Galway United pull out of league
GALWAY United have withdrawn from the League of Ireland after their supporters trust opted to go it alone and attempt to relaunch the club as a different entity.
However, they will need to build a functioning unit in a short space of time and convince the FAI to allow three teams from Galway compete in next season's First Division, with Mervue United and Salthill Devon applying for licenses to continue in senior football.
The city's main team were relegated from the top flight this year and last month it was revealed that debts are in or around the €900,000 mark. Operations in 2011 were run by an agreement between the existing board of directors and a management committee from Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST).
They are set to meet an FAI delegation early next week. GUST had provisionally applied for a separate licence in the event they broke away. After meeting on Monday night, they decided it was the best course of action. They have manager John Brennan on board and are confident of being able to secure Terryland Park as a base from the Galway FA.
Their plan is to operate under the name, Galway United Supporters Trust Football Club. The existing Galway United responded to the news with a statement confirming the withdrawal of their licensing application.
They added that they plan to spend the next year assessing "strategic and infrastructural changes that will be required to be made ahead of an application for the 2013 season."
GUST sources don't expect that attempt to materialise if they can get their own plans off the ground. The fans body have received guidance from the UEFA funded 'Supporters Direct' project who also provided assistance to Cork City's FORAS group when they embarked on a similar process.
A representative from Supporters Direct has also contacted the FAI with a view to encouraging them to be kindly disposed towards the transition.
In an ideal world, Abbotstown would prefer a merger between the three city sides. Yet there is no chance of Mervue being open to such an arrangement.
Informally, Salthill Devon have been sounded out about coming together with Galway United, but it remains a far-fetched concept.
The next step for GUST is to devise a membership structure in line with Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, and raise the relevant funds to support the process of constructing a club. An initial commitment is money owed to players from the 2011 squad; they are determined to ensure they are looked after.
For the FAI, the collapse of Galway is embarrassing considering how they were the poster boys when the association took over the running of the league in 2007. Indeed, the Tribesmen -- who hired former banker Nick Leeson to steer the ship -- were promoted on the basis of their off-field strength.