CORK CITY'S banned players are prepared to go head-to-head with the troubled outfit in a bid to save their careers and stay at the club.
The Munster side has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons in the past few days, and there is another nervous time ahead for concerned supporters. City were due in court in Dublin today to face a winding-up order brought by the Revenue Commissioners over unpaid tax bills.
The club are also busily trying to complete the handing over of the club from current owner Tom Coughlan to a consortium headed by the Quintas Group, and it's hoped that the new owners could be in control by Wednesday.
In the meantime, Cork are trying to deal with the demands of the FAI's licensing committee, as last Friday was the deadline for final accounts to be submitted and for Cork to have paid up all debts, including the estimated €130,000 which is owed to current and former players.
At the time of going to print, it seemed as if the club would get an extension from the FAI's licensing department to allow the incoming board to sort out the debts, but it's highly unlikely that City, who qualified for next season's Europa League, will be allowed to play in the Premier Division and will, like Derry City, be demoted to the First Division.
The debts to their playing staff have caused Cork and their owner Coughlan much angst, and the club was preparing itself for a showdown at the training ground over a six-strong group of players who have been suspended and fined by City.
Last Friday, the six players, who were still under contract from last season but who had not been paid by the club since November (Dan Murray, Dan Connor, Danny Murphy, Stephen O'Donnell, Paul Deasy and Mark McNulty), attended a press conference in Cork where they outlined their grievances and demanded the immediate departure of Coughlan from the club.
But the club didn't waste time in hitting back at the players for stepping out of line and making their criticisms of Coughlan so public. When those players reported for duty for City's pre-season friendly with Crosshaven on Friday night they were told they would not be involved in the game, and after the match they were informed that they were being suspended and fined two weeks' wages for breach of contract.
It was also revealed over the weekend that long-serving defender Dan Murray had been stripped of the captaincy and that midfielder George O'Callaghan would be captain. O'Callaghan is one of six players who have reportedly been offered new contracts by City.
However, the six players insisted last night that they planned to turn up for training in Cork today. That would force manager Roddy Collins to either relent on the club's stance and allow the six to train or else insist that their suspension stood and send them home.
Either way, the issue has created a split in the club, with some fans feeling that the other players should boycott training until the banned six are reinstated and paid their back wages. The removal of the captaincy from popular defender Murray has also dismayed many supporters.