ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC have sacked high-earning midfielder Michael Keane for being too overweight.
The 25-year-old, who takes home a weekly wage in excess of €3,000, was summoned to Richmond Park on Thursday and informed that he was being let go as he had failed to adhere to an ultimatum set down earlier this year regarding his physical condition. Keane is now set to appeal the decision, with the matter destined to go through the Eircom League's legal channels. If successful in fighting his case, Keane will look for the Saints to pay out the remaining 18 months of his contract, which would amount to more than €200,000.
However, the Saints sought legal advice before expelling Keane and are confident that he is in breach of a clause in his contract regarding a player's physical fitness.
As a teenager, Keane was tipped for big things after breaking into the first team at Preston North End. Alas, he did not follow through on that early promise and returned to Ireland after stints with Hull, Grimsby and Rotherham.
He was a regular in the Saints side last season after his arrival in July despite concerns about his size, but this year Keane has been out of favour with manager Johnny McDonnell, making just two appearances as a substitute in the league.
Keane received a letter from the club earlier this year instructing him to lose weight and was given a target to aim towards. Failing to meet that goal was the reason offered for his dismissal. In his defence, the player will argue that he hasn't missed a training session during his time with the club. Should the Saints survive any appeal decision by Keane then it could prove to be a landmark case. The PFAI fear that other clubs would use it as a reference point for removing players from their wage bill.
Defender David Partridge is also on his way out of Richmond Park, with his situation complicated by the fact that he is sidelined for the next three months with an arm injury sustained in an off-the-field incident.