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Fenlon: I'm staying

PAT FENLON was back in Dalymount Park over the weekend.

Not to clear out his desk and hand in his letter of resignation, as had been predicted, but instead to begin the groundwork for pre-season training, which starts for the current League of Ireland champions next Friday morning.

Fenlon reported to the club's home ground to ensure that training kit and other matters would be ready for the squad when they return for duty on Friday.

Fenlon insisted that he was not planning to resign and walk away from the club in the hope that his departure from Bohs would reignite his chances of taking the job at Dundee United, who backed away from their bid to bring in Fenlon as manager when their offer of compensation fell short of the €200,000 minimum demanded by the Dublin club.

There had been speculation that Fenlon would consider quitting, on the grounds that Bohs had breached his contract by non-payment of bonuses for winning the last two league titles, and then take up the job in Scotland.

Knowing that neither club would really want to go through a legal battle, there was some talk that this option could secure Fenlon his dream job in the SPL.

Dundee United have said from the start of negotiations that they would not take on Fenlon through the 'back door' and would only bring him in as manager if everything was agreed with Bohs, the Tannadice club needing stability following Craig Levein's defection to the SFA, not a lengthy and costly legal battle to determine whether Fenlon was a free agent or not.

But Fenlon has stressed that he will not be taking that course of action and he was due back at work as Bohs manager this morning.

"I said I would only go to Dundee on the basis that everything to do with the deal was right for all parties and unfortunately it hasn't worked out like that," Fenlon said.

"When the opportunity came to speak to Dundee United, it was too good not to take a look at. When I went over there to meet them, I found it to be a good club with very good people in charge.

"I had a look at the facilities; I was impressed with everything to do with the job so I was interested in the job.


"But as I said, everything had to be right for it to happen and it hasn't, so I will be back working for Bohemians for our pre- season plans," he added. "I have always enjoyed working with Bohs and I will be getting on with the job. While I didn't seek to leave Bohs, it's true that when the opportunity at Dundee United came along I was interested, but it's not to be now."

After one of the most topsy-turvy weeks of his 22-year-long career in professional football, which began with a sojourn as a trainee with Chelsea back in the 1980s, the exit door to Scotland, and a contract as manager of SPL side Dundee United, was finally closed off on Friday evening when the Tannadice club announced that they had called off their week-long chase for Fenlon as the man they wanted to succeed Levein as team manager.

Weekend speculation suggested that Fenlon would take the matter to another level by resigning, to see if Bohs -- who have had costly legal defeats over matters relating to the departure of previous managers -- had the stomach for a battle through the courts.

He opted to stay put and put aside his disappointment at losing out on the job in Scotland, but it may take some time for the anger and disappointment which Fenlon feels to dissipate, though the prospect of putting talk of contracts, lawyers and compensation aside and getting back to the training ground with his players, to whom Fenlon feels deeply loyal, will appeal strongly to the 40-year-old.

Relations with sections of the Bohs board are strained and will be for some time, as a lot of harsh words were spoken in the past week.

There isn't even the distraction of a big Dublin derby or an important cup game to get everyone at the club to unite, as the new league season does not kick off until March.

Bohs' first official fixture for 2010 is a Setanta Cup game at Coleraine on February 26 but, given Derry City's difficulties, it's uncertain if the competition will even be revived for the second half of the season.


But Fenlon and the board do need to put any differences aside and put on a brave face. Bohs were due to go before an FAI committee this morning to have their budget for the 2010 season approved.

Fenlon was due to sit in on that meeting as his presence, as one of the most successful managers in Irish football history, is key to the club's budgetary plans for the new year. Bohs make a case for inclusion of prize money as income for their budget on the basis that they won the league for the past two seasons and, realistically, only see one club (Shamrock Rovers) as challengers for next season.

That meeting has been postponed for a week, but Bohs need to smooth over relations with their manager before then if they are to put a united front at the FAI.

This is especially the case as many within the club feel that Abbotstown is now a "cold place" for Bohemians for various reasons, including Fenlon's own public criticisms of the FAI hierarchy over matters such as the exclusion of Bohs players from the international squad (before Brian Murphy was called in late last year) and the non-attendance of Giovanni Trapattoni and his management team at LOI matches.

So it's back to work for Fenlon and Bohs, and back to the back-up list of managers for Dundee United.

The controversy has not harmed Fenlon, as his name is now even better known across the water and it's only a matter of time before Bohs, and the LOI, lose him to a foreign club.