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FAI look to hold talks with Limerick over Barca fixture fallout

THE FAI have made informal attempts to arrange discussions with Limerick after the Shannonsiders applied to the High Court to seek arbitration on their case against the association's decision to block a friendly match with Barcelona last summer.

Limerick had lined up the Catalan giants to visit Thomond Park, and have presented papers which prove that stars such as Lionel Messi and Xavi were lined up to play at least 45 minutes of the game.

However, their plans were scuppered after the FAI refused to sanction the game, firstly citing fixture rescheduling difficulties before revealing they had signed a deal with a third party -- subsequently revealed to be Endemol -- which gave them the rights to any friendly with an attendance in excess of 15,000.

The FAI say that the Participation Agreement which all clubs signed when the Abbotstown authorities took over the running of the league gives them the power to agree commercial decisions of that nature.

Yet Limerick were unhappy with the manner in which the arrangement was communicated to them, particularly as an FAI spokesman initially claimed that the limit on the deal was for friendlies with a 20,000 attendance.

The matter was further complicated as the FAI were also in negotiations with Barcelona to bring them to the Aviva Stadium.

Limerick are looking for clarity on when the FAI signed the deal with Endemol, and details on how it might impact upon future plans to bring friendly games to Thomond Park.

The struggling First Division outfit recorded a deficit in excess of €100,000 last year, and are currently putting together a budget for 2011. They wish to know if it is possible to attract high-profile opposition to Thomond if the capacity for the game is to be limited to 14,999.

Under FIFA legislation, they must take any grievances with their parent association to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. But they have proceeded with High Court action here on the basis that they are dissatisfied with the FAI's response to their request for mediation. Limerick have sought meetings with the FAI hierarchy since last July.

It's understood that high-ranking Abbotstown officials feel they are due an apology from the club for going public with their anger at the situation.

Yet, in the wake of Limerick filing court papers earlier this week, the Irish Independent understands that the association have broached the possibility of sitting down for a chat, although it's unclear what would be on the table. Both parties are aware that a costly legal battle would be in neither's best interests.

Irish Independent