Illegal pay fear for PFAI
PFAI chief Stephen McGuinness fears that League of Ireland clubs will return to a system of paying players illegally due to financial concerns, writes Daniel McDonnell.
The players' union held their AGM last weekend, where the matter was raised by delegates who have been sounded out about receiving their wages in cash rather than going through the books, thus dodging the tax process.
McGuinness refused to divulge names, but is concerned that the 'cash culture' could be on the way back, with clubs in such a poor state.
"That would be a return to the dark ages," said McGuinness, who is encouraging his members to abide by the mandatory Standard Players Contract (SPC).
Derry City were kicked out of the Premier Division after it emerged that their playing staff were actually being paid a different amount to what was stated on the SPC.
McGuinness anticipates another difficult winter for PFAI members, with over 90pc out of contract at the end of the season.
Many full-time professionals will be forced to sign on the dole come the end of the campaign, a situation which even extends to some who have offers of employment next year.
"To me, full-time means being paid 52 weeks a year, not 40 weeks a year or less like some clubs are offering," said McGuinness.
However, out-of-work pros will have something to aim for over the winter, with the PFAI sending a team to a tournament in Norway in January.
They will face counterparts from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark in a shop window to impress scouts from Scandinavia and beyond. The trip is funded by FIFPRO, the global body for professional footballers.
"It's not ideal to be encouraging our players to leave Ireland," said McGuinness. "But it's an opportunity for them to find employment. It will be a successful trip if someone gets a contract from it."