HAVING lurched from one financial crisis to another since they left their spiritual home in Milltown in 1987 Shamrock Rovers now find themselves battling for survival deep into injury time.
Their current application for examinership represents one of the last possible throws of the dice available to those who run Ireland's most successful ever football club in their desperate battle to keep it afloat.
Rovers problems can be traced back to the decision by the Kilcoyne family to sell Glenmalure Park to developers and it is ironic that that decision came when Rovers were in the middle of winning four successive league titles and three FAI Cups.
From those dizzy heights it has been a steady slide to the lowly position the club finds itself in today with no home, no money, few fans and precious little options.
They are now paying heavily for the sins of the past which insisted that because they were Shamrock Rovers they had to remain competitive in the Premier Division of the Eircom League of Ireland even though they were trying to find the money to build new stadium in Tallaght.
Thus we had the situation where Rovers were paying out big money to attract top players even though their income streams were diminished by having to rent out other Dublin stadiums for their home games.
By having no ground Rovers lost out on income from pitchside signs, bars and catering while the lack of proper home also contributed to a steady decline in their core support.
Now, after an 18-year battle to survive, they are staring defeat in the face. There are still committed fans who have formed groups like the 400 Club and the Friends of Shamrock Rovers and are willing to raise cash to help bail the club out.
But at this stage those efforts, however admirable, seem akin to using buckets to try and keep the Titanic afloat.
If Rovers do succeed in obtaining High Court permission to go into examinership today it won't be the equivalent of a last gasp equaliser because they will still face an anxious wait to see if the referee agrees.
The referee, in this case, is the FAI's independent Club Licensing Committee who will meet to decide if Rovers should retain their licence to play in the Eircom League Premier Division.
A few years ago, when Real Madrid nearly went bust in the middle of the season, UEFA introduced a licensing system to ensure that all clubs playing in its competitions were financially viable and wouldn't go bust during something like the group stages of the Champions League.
The system was adapted so it could also apply to the 52 domestic leagues across Europe and in Ireland the FAI enthusiastically embraced it.
Debts now had to be settled at the end of each season, audited accounts produced and tax clearance certificates obtained in order to satisfy the financial demands of licensing.
Other criteria covered infrastructure, legal, administrative and sporting requirements in the hope that the Eircom League would eventually contain 22 properly run football clubs.
The evidence produced in the High Court yesterday is sure to send shock waves through Irish football because it seriously undermines the domestic club licensing system, which was introduced in 2004.
The court was told that Rovers have debts of ?42.36m and owe ?540,000 to the Revenue Commissioners in PAYE and PRSI. Last February the club was awarded, on appeal, a Premier Division licence having satisfied the FAI Clubs Licensing Appeals Committee that it fulfilled its requirements under club licensing.
It received a tax clearance certificate after making a deal with the Revenue Commissioners which involved the payment ?50,000 on December 1, 2004, followed by 20 payments of ?18,500 a month commencing at the end of March 2005 and culminating in a final payment of ?144,980.
The court heard yesterday that Rovers have been unable to fulfil the terms of their agreement with the Revenue Commissioners yet they widely believed to be paying one of their current first team players ?1,600 per week and their manager Roddy Collins announced yesterday that he had signed a new English striker.
It is a sorry state of affairs for a once great club and unless there is a Roman Abramovich figure waiting in the wings for a grand entrance then Shamrock Rovers days as a top flight professional football club could be numbered.