Thursday 20 July 2017

It won't be all white on the night for league in the red

The sorry tale at Dalymount is an all too familiar story of a League of Ireland club which is unable to honour contracts agreed in the same calendar year.
The sorry tale at Dalymount is an all too familiar story of a League of Ireland club which is unable to honour contracts agreed in the same calendar year.
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

BEFORE the snow and ice came along, there were already some League of Ireland clubs ready to slip and slide their way through the winter. Now, they have a suitable backdrop.

Although the 2010 campaign was tame compared to its predecessor in terms of embarrassing, off-the-pitch shenanigans, the latest developments at Bohemians added to worrying missives from Drogheda, Galway and Sporting Fingal suggest that a troubled month lies ahead.

With the FAI's general finances in a grim state, the overall picture for Irish football is depressingly familiar.

No matter how many times we talk about the penny dropping, we once again end up in a situation where clubs are unable to honour contracts agreed in the same calendar year.

Bohs were always risking a militant response from the 11 contracted players they wish to agree redundancy packages with by informing them they would receive no further wages until mid-January.

unthinkable

The individuals in question claim to be three weeks behind, and the prospect of going up to seven weeks without pay is unthinkable to them. While mad money has been thrown around the league in recent seasons, not every player at Bohemians benefited from the surge. For those with families and bills to deal with, a winter short of cash is a dire situation.

Nevertheless, it is quite unprecedented for two players to break from the pack and threaten the club with High Court action unless they get paid monies due within 21 days.

They will instruct their solicitor, Stuart Gilhooly -- who handles legal affairs for the PFAI -- to make an application for the winding up of the company 'on the grounds that it is unable to pay their debts'.

Much as all the players are desperately unhappy with the 2008 and 2009 Premier Division champions, the majority have shied away from going down the legal route.

Some are wary of burning bridges with a view to possible future employment; others are reluctant to take such a public stand.

There is unhappiness that the club are willing to offer only 13 weeks of their 52-week deals as a goodbye handshake. The players generally want 26, and believe that the club want to force their hand by not paying them into the middle of January because, at that point, other sides around the league will be finalising their squads.

Essentially, that means the 'Bohs 11' would be keen to sort out their situation so they can be free to find another club.

The problem, of course, is that certain players are aware they will never be able to secure their current deal anywhere else, not in this climate. Not in the rest of their careers. Ergo, they are determined to pursue as much as possible.

They would probably receive more sympathy from Bohemians fans if they had delivered on the pitch in 2010 instead of flopping in Europe and throwing away the league title.

However, the bigger picture is that if a club who loses a league title on goal difference can teeter on the brink of extinction, then something is very wrong with the entire product. The fault cannot lie with the dressing-room.

There are varying circumstances at the other clubs that find themselves under the wrong kind of spotlight.

Sporting Fingal rocketed to the top table on the back of serious investment from Gerry Gannon; they were always in danger of plummeting when his well ran dry.

In many respects, it's a similar story at Drogheda United, who enjoyed great success due to the investment of prominent businessmen. They did so in a deplorable stadium. When they met obstacles in their attempt to find a new abode, they were only ever heading one way.

As for Galway United, well, you might remember that they were actually never promoted to the Premier Division on the pitch. Instead, when the FAI took over the running of the league, they scored highly on all the off-the-field criteria. Cue ironic chuckles from the creditors that have stacked up in the subsequent four seasons.

Where now? Well, the respective situations will rumble on towards the final licensing deadlines in January and February, the deadlines that follow the other deadlines which really don't mean that much.

Clubs looking to finalise their plans for 2011 are in a somewhat tricky situation as the FAI have yet to confirm how many teams will be promoted or relegated, vital details when it comes to deciding how to cut the cloth accordingly.

Then again, even when that information has been available, Irish football's decision makers have tended to err on the side of dangerous presumption.

When the snow clouds form, they search the drawers for beachwear. They are, after all, happiest with their head in the sand.

Irish Independent

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