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Bohs release playing staff to stay alive next season

BOHEMIANS will this week begin the process of releasing their playing staff in a bid to keep the club alive until next season.

The curtain closed on the 2010 season on Friday night with Bohs finishing second in the league behind title winners Shamrock Rovers on goal difference, but it was the end of an era for Bohs as their 11-year spell as a full-time club is now over and the cash-strapped outfit are now taking drastic measures to try and avoid a complete meltdown.

Six players from the 2010 squad, Conor Powell, Jason Byrne, Killian Brennan, Mark Quigley, Mark Rossiter and Jason McGuinness, have already left the club as they are out of contract and the club are not in a position to offer them new deals.

Powell is a particular loss as the U21 cap was the longest-serving player at the club, having made his debut in 2005.

Pat Fenlon's six-strong backroom staff have also been let go with immediate effect.

But senior players Barry Murphy, Owen Heary, Ken Oman, Brian Shelley, Anto Murphy, Paul Keegan, Glenn Cronin, Paddy Madden, Raff Cretaro, Stephen Gray, Gareth McGlynn, Chris O'Connor, Aaron Greene and Ruaidhri Higgins are either under contract or have an option of another year with the club -- that option of a contract extension was offered to players as part of a deal which saw then take a pay cut earlier this year.

Bohs, who are €5m in debt, know that they cannot keep their squad on the books for next season and the hard-hit club are unable to meet the wage bill over the close season -- until the 2011 campaign kicks off in March.

The club will begin talks with the players and their trade union, the PFAI, this week in a bid to find a way out of the crisis, but the most likely option for the club is to make the vast majority of the squad redundant with the outfit making a settlement with them for the remainder of their contracts.

That will cost the club a six-figure sum but to have a chance of attaining a Premier Division licence from the FAI for next season, the club will have to at least try to reach an agreement with the players over the remainder of their contracts. Some players may want to stay on at Dalymount but only if they can agree terms on a reduced contract.

Bohs are likely to retain midfielder Cronin as he will be injured for some months and would be unable to find a new club, while youngsters such as Lee Dixon, Gary Burke, Ryan McAvoy and Marc Hughes may also be kept on by the Phibsboro club.