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Drogheda hit by cash crisis

DROGHEDA United's survival as a Premier Division club is once again in doubt as a new cash crisis has plunged the Co Louth outfit into chaos just weeks before the start of the new season.

Drogheda's manager Alan Mathews and a batch of players may opt to walk away from United Park even before a ball has been kicked in anger in the 2010 season.

One player has already left the club -- defender Conor Kenna has gone back on his decision to re-sign for United and has instead moved to St Patrick's Athletic.

Drogheda were due to play their first competitive game of the season away to St Patrick's Athletic in the revamped Leinster Senior Cup -- back after ten years -- tomorrow night. But yesterday the Dublin club announced that the game was off and the Saints will now play a friendly against Longford Town instead.

Drogheda's budget for the 2010 season was rejected by the FAI's licencing department so the club were therefore unable to formally register players for the Pats game, which is the initial reason why the game was cancelled.

Last night the club issued a statement, saying: "Further to recent speculation in media circles, the board of Drogheda United FC is in budgetary discussions and hopes to have its 2010 budget finalised within the coming days".

Drogheda retained a number of players from last season's squad and also made a batch of new signings, with Michael Daly (Dundalk), Corie Treacy (Shamrock Rovers), Damien Brennan (Shels), Jamie Harris, Gareth O'Connor and Glenn Fitzpatrick (Pats) all arriving at United Park in recent weeks.

But the new board in charge of the club appear to have underestimated the financial demands for the new season. After their budget was rejected by the FAI, the board came back to the players and coaching staff to point out that cuts were needed.

The squad have reportedly offered to take a 10 per cent cut in wages and also defer payment of wages for a short period of time to give the board some breathing space and get the season started, but today it appears this may not be enough and a bigger wage cut may be needed.

Players are angry at being asked to accept reduced wages even before the season has started and, seeing as their signings have not formally been registered with the FAI, it's possible that a number of the players will now seek to leave and find new clubs.

"It's a basket case and a shambles, for this to happen so early in the season," said one source in the squad today.


"We're supposed to have a game against Pats tomorrow night, we were all looking forward to that and getting the season started but now the game is off and the players have no idea where they stand.

"No one knows where this will all end up but there is a strong possibility that a lot of the players and some of the staff may just want to walk away."

Drogheda almost went bust when massive debts forced them to undergo an examinership process in 2008 and 2009, but United were allowed to stay in football.

Last year there was a realisation that the glory days of Champions League football and the largesse of having 20 full time players and a full time coaching staff, funded from the pockets of generous directors, were at an end, and there was a proposal to hand over control of the club to a community-based, supporter-led board, headed up by the Claret And Blue Club.

Partly due to their escape from their debts during the examinership process, Drogheda are debt-free and are also in compliance with the taxman, but now it seems the current board of the club are struggling to come up with the cash to fund the playing budget which had been agreed with boss Alan Mathews.

With Cork City still no closer to a takeover, today it's clear that two of the ten clubs who were due to take part in the ten-team Premier Division for the 2010 season are in very real danger of dropping out of the top division.

DUNDALK have signed Ireland U21 cap Garry Breen from Premier Division rivals Galway United.

"I'm delighted to get him on board," Dundalk boss Ian Foster said after signing the former Manchester City player

"He's a big, strong lad. He's a good defender and he's also comfortable on the ball. He has got a season behind him in the League of Ireland, he knows the division now, and I hope he can improve again this year.

"He's of that age, he's only 20, he's improving with every game, he wants to learn, he wants to improve, and what he will have is decent competition in the back four."