Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

FAI block Thomond feast of football

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI last night refused to comment on their decision to block a pre-season tournament in Thomond Park that would have involved Champions League finalists Chelsea and Celtic.

A clash with the second staging of the Dublin Super Cup on the August Bank Holiday weekend was the reason given to officials from the Limerick stadium, but huge uncertainty surrounds the future of that event.

The Irish Independent understands that Tottenham Hotspur and a La Liga club had also been earmarked for the Thomond competition, while Manchester City and a Serie A side were other possible options.

It's believed that the promoter who brought the idea to the attention of the Thomond authorities was previously working with the FAI on the Dublin Super Cup -- but now prefers the Shannonside option. The substantial cost of opening the Aviva is a factor.

"We received an offer from a leading promoter to hold a tournament with some big European teams," said John Cantwell, the stadium boss in Thomond.

"We obviously put in a request to the FAI, because we can't hold it without sanction from them, but that hasn't been forthcoming. The reason being given is that they have an alternative -- another tournament planned for the same period."

Earlier this year, the FAI stated their intention to proceed with the Dublin Super Cup despite the cessation of their agreement with Endemol Sport, who had initially come on board in a 10-year deal.

Last summer's inaugural staging -- which involved Manchester City, Celtic, Inter Milan and an Airtricity League XI -- failed to attract crowds to the Aviva Stadium. With no confirmation on the Dublin event, the Thomond hierarchy are unimpressed, believing their planned soiree could generate significant revenue for the region.

"To date we have not got confirmation of this other tournament," continued Cantwell. "Nothing has been released about it. They have said that if the situation changes, whereby they are not having a tournament, they would be right back on to us. That is the state of play.

"The economic impact would be significant, that profile of an event for Limerick and the region would be phenomenal, so we are keen to do it, but we have to have sanction from the relevant body."

It's not the first time that the FAI have put a stop to a marquee event in Thomond. In 2010, Limerick FC had secured Barcelona for a friendly fixture, but the FAI said no to the request, in part because of their concerns that it would take away from the subsequent opening of the renovated Lansdowne Road.

Irish Independent

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