Sunday 17 December 2017

DDSL players in limbo as league refuses to play ball

John Fallon

THE long wait for 180 teams from the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) to play in this season's national cup competitions is set to continue.

By assigning cup fixtures to DDSL teams for next weekend, the Schoolboys FAI (SFAI) were confident that the ongoing dispute surrounding the competitions would place no further impact on teams already seven weeks behind the rest of the country.

It has emerged, however, that the DDSL have not only declined to allocate referees to the proposed first-round fixtures, they have fixed league fixtures for the teams involved.

Last night, it was suggested that some of the aggrieved teams are to press ahead with the national cup games, with or without the approval of the DDSL.

The logistics involved though, such as obtaining agreement to fulfil the fixture from the opposition and acquiring an available referee, makes that prospect impractical.

Despite the ongoing confusion, the DDSL have yet to contact their clubs since the SFAI last week distributed a rule-book and fixture lists directly to the clubs of the biggest league in the country.

DOMINATED

The SFAI Cup competitions – catering for five age-groups between U-12 and U-16 – are the centrepiece of the schoolboy football calendar. When it comes to silverware, DDSL clubs have traditionally dominated, most recently with last season's clean sweep of trophies.

Trouble began to brew regarding this season's installment shortly after their teams were urged by the DDSL to enter the competitions before the August 10 deadline imposed by the SFAI.

Once teams adhered to the directive and the draw for the DDSL region was conducted by the SFAI, they expected fixtures to be set on the scheduled on the weekend of September 28/29 in unison with the other seven regions nationwide.

None appeared amid continued queries by the DDSL of the SFAI's rule-book on the basis that a version for this season has not been ratified.

This issue, according to the SFAI, was resolved on October 1 following agreement by all members of their executive committee, including a DDSL representative, on the updated rule amendments.

All subsequent queries from the DDSL have been dealt with, insist the SFAI.

Another anomaly raised by the SFAI is the participation already in the other national cup regions of clubs who also have teams in the DDSL. That some of these clubs have representatives on the board of the DDSL – the forum most entrenched in the dispute – has further mystified them.

Meanwhile, 3,000 DDSL players and their coaches are left in limbo.

Irish Independent

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