Limerick's dream clash bites dust as Barca pursue other options
LIMERICK FC were last night forced to accept that their dream friendly with Barcelona is dead, with the Catalan giants left with no option but to look elsewhere after the FAI's refusal to sanction the game.
The furious First Division club released a statement strongly criticising the association for their behaviour throughout the affair, and will continue to press for clarity on the exact nature of the third-party agreement which blocked the visit of the La Liga champions to the South West region.
They added that Barcelona sent correspondence to the FAI on Monday night to restate their interest in visiting Thomond Park, yet it fell on deaf ears with Abbotstown officials standing by the assertion that no game with a capacity in excess of 15,000 -- although they said it was 20,000 on Monday morning -- can be sanctioned due to a confidential deal.
"Due to FC Barcelona's need to finalise their pre-season plans for the upcoming season, they are now left with no choice but to seek an alternative friendly match for the date in question," the statement read.
Limerick had expressed a desire to appeal the decision. Yet the clubs who backed Limerick in a meeting on Monday night rowed back on their public support yesterday, issuing a statement which instead stressed the positive nature of the earlier part of the summit -- which revolved around a discussion related to continuing the merger between the league and the FAI.
It's understood that a decision at the end of the gathering to support Limerick caused a stir in senior FAI circles. The chairman of the League of Ireland, Eamonn Naughton, is also on the board of the FAI.
A second meeting took place before the draw, although some delegates had left at this point. The decision was taken at that juncture not to release a formal statement and, yesterday, a missive from the clubs took a conciliatory stance towards the powers that be.