Ferrycarrig Park future ‘up in the air’ but club believe solution is likely
Back in 2016, then CEO of the FAI John Delaney took great pleasure in announcing that the future of League of Ireland football in Wexford and the south east had been secured with the purchase of Wexford Youths' home of Ferrycarrig Park from a receiver.
Under the agreement, the FAI would jointly own the grounds with the Wexford Football League.
Fast forward three years and things are vastly changed. While the Wexford Youth's Womens team continues to bring silverware back to the model county, the men's team have gone from taking on the Premier Division through a difficult couple of seasons which included a re-brand to Wexford FC.
While John Delaney was always one for a photo op, he has now departed the FAI in the most controversial of circumstances, leaving the organisation teetering on the brink of liquidation with massive debts. As a result, Wexford's League of Ireland club finds itself surrounded by uncertainty once again.
President of the FAI Donal Conway has publicly stated that it's possible that the debt-ravaged association could be liquidated should the major debt owed to the banks on the Aviva Stadium be called in. A cause for massive concern, it threatens the very existence of the league itself, as the association look to bring in money from wherever possible.
Chairman of Wexford FC Sean O'Shea said that things are still 'up in the air' at the moment, but he is not unduly concerned for the future of the club.
'I suppose we don't really know what's happening with the FAI at the moment,' he said. 'I do know that as long as we're a League of Ireland club, we're tenants there (Ferrycarrig Park).'
'We're not the only club in the country in this situation. It's similar for the likes of Drogheda and Cobh. We're hoping we won't be in a situation where assets are sold and I know the government don't want that either.'
Mr O'Shea was due to be part of a delegation from League of Ireland clubs to meet with Minister for Sport Shane Ross on Friday, along with representatives from UEFA and the banks. A bailout from the European footballing body was deemed vital to secure the future of the League of Ireland.
'I think we're a long way off the grounds being sold,' Mr O'Shea said. 'That would probably be the least of the concerns. Every League of Ireland club is in the same boat as we try to find a solution. I think we'll get a much better picture of how things are going in the next week, but my gut feeling is that things will be sorted.'
In the meantime, with a number of fresh faces arriving to Ferrycarrig, Wexford FC got pre-season training under way on Saturday and Sean says that there's a renewed optimism around the place.
'We've got a good few players in that look very promising,' he said. 'Obviously the last few years have been really tough. Last year we found it a struggle to get lads interested. Ahead of this season we've got a few lads in who've been playing League of Ireland for a while. Unfortunately, there's not too many of them from Wexford, but we have some great lads coming through the U19s and U17s that are nearly ready to make the step up, so we're hopeful there'll be more local lads in the future.'
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