SLIGO ROVERS will finally get their hands on the league trophy tonight after a 35-year wait - but key defender Jason McGuinness has warned that the club face the prospect of seeing their title-winning side break up.
Despite having won the league 13 days ago, the Sligo players will only receive the trophy and their medals tonight after their home game against the previous title holders, Shamrock Rovers.
In the fortnight since the title was secured, the Sligo board have failed to make progress on talks with their out-of-contract players -- the bulk of the squad are officially unemployed as of tomorrow.
McGuinness is one of those out-of-work players and while his contribution to Sligo's success was recognised when he was included on the four-man shortlist for the PFAI player of the year awards yesterday, he's disappointed with the lack of movement on new deals.
"It's hard to understand why the club haven't done anything about signing up the players for next year," McGuinness told the Herald.
"I would really hate to see this team break up but football is a business and if players are offered contracts and security by other clubs they will have to consider that. We all have bills and mortgages to pay and as of tomorrow morning most of the squad are more or less on the dole.
"It's been such a brilliant season for the team and for the club. We feel really honoured to be the first Sligo team in 35 years to bring the league here but it's hard to get your head around the fact that the club haven't moved on players' contracts.
"Lads like Gary Rogers, Danny Ventre and Mark Quigley would walk into any team in the league but they're all out of contract," added former Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers man McGuinness, who feels honoured to have made the shortlist for the players' player of the year awards, along with team-mate Quigley, Shamrock Rovers man Ronan Finn and St Pats winger Sean O'Connor.
"Considering where I was two years ago, my career was going nowhere and I had a lot of injuries, it's great to be where I am now and it's brilliant to be nominated for the PFAI awards," he said.
"But I can't believe that Danny Ventre didn't make the list as he's been sensational for us this year. You could really have had four Sligo players on the list," he added.
In the immediate aftermath of the title success Sligo suffered a very rare league defeat last weekend by Drogheda United, but ex-Hoop McGuinness promises that the Sligo players will be back on message for tonight's game.
"It's in the Showgrounds, in front of our own fans and we want to put on a show. Games against Shamrock Rovers are always special but this one will be one to remember."