BOHEMIANS may not have enough players to defend the Setanta Sports Cup, according to manager Pat Fenlon.
And the Gypsies boss indicated yesterday that he is considering his position at the crisis-hit club, who staved off the prospect of a winding-up order by reaching an agreement with disgruntled players Steven Gray and Brian Shelley last week.
Fenlon, who along with other members of the staff has also gone without being paid for some time, had to cancel pre-season training last week due to a lack of coaches and players.
The man who has guided Bohs to all five domestic trophies during his three- year tenure at the club has only four players -- experienced full-back Owen Heary, injured midfielder Glenn Cronin and goalkeepers Chris O'Connor and Barry Murphy -- signed for the new season.
Revealing that he is "very close" to the end of his tether, Fenlon openly criticised the club for their handling of the long-running saga, which saw the majority of their contracted players go unpaid after the end of the season.
Bohs are scheduled to take on Portadown at Dalymount Park on February 21, but Fenlon believes the match will come too soon after an agreement was reached with most of the players last Friday.
"To be honest with you, I don't think we are going to be able to play the first game. We don't have a team," he said. "I don't know what the situation is in relation to signing other players. I don't think we can fulfil that fixture.
"We can't train. We trained for two weeks and I then had to cancel it last week because all the staff are gone. You can't train without a physio or anybody else. That's where we stand at the moment."
Setanta Sports Cup chairman Milo Corcoran was dismayed by the news that the competition might lose its holders, with UCD set to take their place.
There is no possibility to reschedule the fixture and, while Bohemians do not have to register players until the day before the match, Corcoran urged the club to communicate fully with the organisers. "It will be a disaster from our point of view. I hope they will get the players in," he said.
"We'll have to get an indication from them about how serious they are about doing that. There will have to be a lot of honesty and trust between the committee and Bohemians. We'll have to put UCD on notice."
Bohs' honorary secretary Denis Maher was more confident that the club would be in a position to take part, but a disheartened Fenlon may not be with them.
"The situation has to be resolved first," he said. "I think a lot of this has been lost with the players' situation. The way the players were treated was wrong and their contracts should have been honoured.
"The players -- and I signed most of them -- had contracts and they should have been honoured, but they weren't. I'm hoping that they all get sorted out now and get clubs.
"But there are other people involved at the club outside of the football side who haven't been paid for a long, long time. So that's been lost. There are people on the administration staff, people in the ground. That has been lost in this thing. It's not just all about the players.
"I am owed money, but I've been owed money for a long time. It's something that I'm probably used to now.
"It would be very difficult for me to go and sign players while that situation remains. It's not fair on anybody to do that. When all that is sorted, I'll make a decision on what I want to do then."
One player who definitely won't be playing in the Setanta Cup is 20-year-old Paddy Madden, who yesterday agreed a deal to join English League One outfit Carlisle United for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of €90,000.
Meanwhile, Raffaele Cretaro has completed his return to Sligo Rovers from Bohs after spending just one season at Dalymount Park.
Shamrock Rovers also made an attacking acquisition yesterday, with the capture of Dean Kelly. The Dubliner was previously with Oldham after making the leap from junior football to England. However, he failed to nail down a regular place there.