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Drogs take big decisions in survival fight

 

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Mark Doyle has his shot blocked by UCD captain Jack Keaney.

Mark Doyle has his shot blocked by UCD captain Jack Keaney.

Mark Doyle has his shot blocked by UCD captain Jack Keaney.

Drogheda United chairman Conor Hoey says he's confident the club can ride out the current League of Ireland shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The FAI confirmed last Thursday that the domestic season was being put on hold until at least March 29th, but there's every chance that no soccer will be played for several more weeks or even months and that will put huge financial strain on all clubs.

As things stand the Boynesiders' March fixtures against Shamrock Rovers II, Bray Wanderers and Athlone Town are all postponed and they are due to return to action with a home fixture against Galway United on Friday April 3rd, exactly four weeks since their last outing when they beat UCD 5-1 - but that represents the best case scenario.

Drogheda United's board met on Sunday to discuss the crisis and agreed that payments to all players, coaches and staff are being suspended.

However, Mr Hoey feels the current situation is very different when compared to the financial problems that the club suffered in the past, which led to players threatening to go on strike.

'We have to look at what our obligations are,' he said, 'but it does not take a genius to work out that if there's no money coming in, we can't be paying players and staff to stay at home.

'We have some staff who are reliant on us and we'll have to look after them, but I think everybody is going to be reasonable about this. We have no players who are solely dependent on us for a living. There are about six or seven pros, but they have day jobs as well and so we are not in the worst position [compared to other clubs].

'We can in effect shut the club down, minimise our costs as much as we can and try to get a few bob in through the lotto and people buying jerseys.

'We'll have to see if we keep our car park open because we have to be conscious of the staff who work there and the message as a club is that we have to do what's right for our players and staff and the people in the community.'

The club are also awaiting further guidance from the FAI, Uefa and the Irish Government, the hope being that some sort of financial help will be forthcoming.

Looking further ahead, the chairman speculated that the club might be able to reimburse players for the unpaid wages - if the season was subsequently completed in full.

'If the season is cancelled, what can we do? Hoey said, 'but let's say that football comes back in two months and we're having to squeeze more matches in. We'll get the money in we were expecting from gate receipts and we'll try and make sure that players earn what they were supposed to earn.

'We do feel we'll come through this okay, but in the grand scheme of things football is not really important.

'It's more important that we help in any way to save lives and if United Park can be used in some way to help the hospital across the road, it will be.'

Drogheda Independent