Monday 23 October 2017

FAI come under fire for jumping gun on contracts

Daniel McDonnell and Neil Ahern

PFAI chief Stephen McGuinness has criticised the FAI for issuing official contracts to Drogheda United to sign new players before their budget was sanctioned.

Worried recruits now fear they are tied to the Louth club after they were asked to take a pay cut before a ball has been kicked in the new League of Ireland season.

Drogheda organised an information meeting for fans last night to discuss their plight after their latest budget submission was refused by the FAI. It's understood they are dealing with a deficit in the region of €30,000 and there is some hope that a major sponsor might be willing to help out.

However, they have angered players by asking them to take a 12.5pc pay cut, although some signings have offered to take part in fundraising initiatives.

Others are aggrieved though, with Drogheda having outbid St Patrick's Athletic and Dundalk to snap up available talent before it emerged they didn't have the money to pay them in full for the entire campaign.

Now, the players union have expressed concerns that those who signed the league's Standard Players Contract (SPC) could be bound to an arrangement -- even though the contracts can't be officially registered until Drogheda's figures get the Abbotstown go-ahead.

One player was at the club's United Park base yesterday in search of a copy of his contract and McGuinness believes that the order of registration is all wrong. "Until budgets are agreed, the clubs shouldn't be given out SPC's to sign anyone," he said.

All clubs need their issues resolved ahead of Premier Division licenses being issued next Monday, February 15. The plight of Cork City has attracted most interest and owner Tom Coughlan is now claiming a takeover deal with a British-based consortium could be completed by tomorrow.

Irish firm Quintas, who were in discussions up until last week, were unwilling to inherit debts, and are believed to be considering linking up with supporters group FORAS to launch a new club in the First Division if City are thrown out.

McGuinness feels that the overall situation is ridiculous considering that the new season is scheduled to kick off in just over three weeks on March 5.

"Licensing is the key to getting things right in the league, but the calendar is out of sync," he says. "The next date, the 15th, is an absolute joke. We have all these dates but what do they mean? What are the sanctions for the clubs who have failed to comply?

"The fact is, we're meant to be three weeks away from the new season, but nobody knows what teams will be in the Premier Division, or what the schedule will be."

Meanwhile, striker Ross Gaynor, who was expected to re-sign with Drogheda, now looks Dundalk-bound along with Liam Burns, who played for the Lilywhites last year but had been training with Shamrock Rovers in the hope of securing a contract there.

Irish Independent

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