independent

Friday 16 November 2018

2009 FAI Cup winners Sporting Fingal's dream dies

Robin KIELY

SPORTING Fingal players have reacted with 'disbelief and anger' following the demise of the League of Ireland side, after it failed to secure new investment for the upcoming season.

Following months of financial uncertainty, the club's directors confirmed on Thursday they had withdrawn an application for a licence for the 2011 Airtricity League campaign, bringing to an end to a remarkable threeyear life span. And as players began the search for new employment, details of the frantic final few hours of the club's existence have emerged, including how: - The squad were ordered to remain at the ALSAA complex for five hours last Wednesday as desperate attempts were made to find finance;

- Club officials failed to formally inform players that the club had officially folded on Friday.

Sporting's Swords star, Conan Byrne, slammed Fingal County Council's involvement in the club and accused the local authority of 'jumping ship'.

'They could have handled things better and given us more time,' he said. 'When we were riding high, they were the first to jump on the bandwagon, but the first sign of things going badly and they're gone. The players are furious with the council for the way they got out.'

Announcing the decision, the club said funding targets integral to the club's continued existence were not reached during the off-season,' the statement read.

'Efforts to secure vital funding have been ongoing since the departure of benefactor, Gerry Gannon, at the end of last season and, while this process yielded investors and backers, the failure to secure a particular key sponsor at an advanced stage of negotiations last week necessitated a revision of the club's business plan. SPORTING Fingal officially folded following months of financial uncertainty after it failed to secure new investment for the upcoming season.

In a statement last Thursday, the club's directors confirmed they had withdrawn an application for a licence for the 2011 Airtricity League campaign, bringing an end to a remarkable three-year history.

'This regrettable decision was taken after funding targets integral to the club's continued existence were not reached during the off-season,' the statement read.

'Efforts to secure vital funding have been ongoing since the departure of benefactor, Gerry Gannon, at the end of last season and, while this process yielded investors and backers, the failure to secure a particular key sponsor at an advanced stage of negotiations last week necessitated a revision of the club's business plan.

'The closeness of this set-back to the club's opening game of the season, next Monday (February 14th) in the Setanta Sports Cup, hastened the requirement to source an alternative revenue stream. Unfortunately, this objective was not achieved within the requisite timeframe.

'It is therefore with much disappointment that the club is left with no option but to cease trading after three seasons in the League of Ireland. Accordingly, the club's signed players are automatically released from their contracts and can sign for other clubs as free agents.'

Sporting's director of football and manager, Liam Buckley, said he was devastated for the players, staff, fans, volunteers and directors that the project had been brought to a premature end.

'Finding a replacement for our supportive backer was always going to be a major challenge, but we were pleased with the progress made,' Mr Buckley said. '

'Sadly, the suddenness and timing of last week's sponsorship set-back sent us back to the drawing board, a predicament we were simply unable to overcome so close to the season kick-off.'

Mr Buckley said the core aim from the outset of Sporting Fingal's creation was to develop a club with a particular emphasis on using sport as a vehicle for community gain within the Fingal area, which had been achieved.

'That commitment to community development was demonstrated through the various initiatives associated with the club such as the Community Trust, partnership with the North Dublin SL, third-level scholarship agreements with DCU and ITB, as well as the establishment of the Sporting Fingal Special Olympics team, the Sporting Fingal Power Wheelchair team and the bestowal by the FAI of a 'Football for All' status on the club,' he added.

'Our success on the pitch, especially winning the 2009 FAI Ford Cup and participating in last year's UEFA Europa League, was testament to the dedication and resilience of the players.'

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