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Red tape could deny Dundalk Euro adventure

DUNDALK could lose out on a place in European football next season due to red tape -- which could see Sligo Rovers make an unexpected return to Europe, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

Cork City finished third in the Premier Division table last season and that should have qualified them for a place in the Europa League, but that has now been taken away from them due to the club being wound up yesterday. Derry City, who finished fourth, were next in line for a European berth but Derry too will be playing in the First Division next season due to financial irregularities and cannot play in Europe, so Dundalk -- who finished fifth in the table -- are next in line.

But clubs competing in UEFA competition now need to have a manager in charge who has a UEFA Pro Licence qualification, or else a manager who has started a Pro Licence course, and so far Dundalk boss Ian Foster does not qualify under either of those categories.

"In terms of European qualification, with Cork and Derry gone Dundalk are next in line to qualify on sporting merit, but only if they fulfil all the criteria needed by UEFA, and a Pro Licence is one of those criteria," an FAI spokesman said.

If Dundalk are denied a place in Europe due to the coaching issue, Sligo Rovers, whose boss Paul Cook possesses a Pro Licence, would be back in.

However Dundalk are confident that they will be able to return to Europe for the first time since 2002.

"The club are pleased with the decision by the FAI and we hope it paves the way for the club to play in the Europa League," Dundalk said in a statement after a board meeting last night.