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Fingal future in doubt after failure to seal investment

SPORTING FINGAL'S future was plunged into doubt yesterday less than a fortnight before they are due to play their first match of the new season.

The club is not in a position to pay their players' wages after failing to find a replacement for primary investor Gerry Gannon and have informed the FAI and the PFAI of the situation.

The 2009 FAI Cup winners underwent a review of their finances after the developer, one of the first 10 people to have their loans transferred to NAMA, signalled he was no longer prepared to fund the club after sinking €1.25m into the operation.

Sporting Fingal appeared to have secured the investment needed to proceed for the new season, albeit on a reduced budget, but a number of commitments they believed were in place have not materialised.

They now face a race against time to procure a budget for the new season and will need guarantees in place ahead of the closing of the club licensing process in two weeks' time.

The club had been confident of investment to such an extent that manager Liam Buckley was able to announce a number of new signings, while former St Patrick's Athletic commercial manager Philip Nolan crossed the city to take up a new role with Fingal only last Monday.

Sporting even turned down a bid from Celtic for star midfielder Shaun Williams, who could now leave for free if his contract is breached by continued non-payment of wages.

The club are due to open their season in the Setanta Cup against Lisburn Distillery at Dalymount Park on February 14 and are scheduled to kick off their league campaign at home to UCD on March 4.

King upbeat despite tricky qualifier draw

NOEL King may be picking up the phone to call Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli in the coming months after his Ireland U-21 side were drawn against Italy in the Euro 2013 qualifiers.

King's charges received a tough group, with Hungary, Turkey (who beat Ireland home and away in their last campaign) and Liechtenstein joining the fourth-seeded Irish and the Italians in Group 7.

Ireland kick off their campaign on Thursday September 1 and have four matches before facing Italy at home in June next year. The group winners qualify automatically for the finals in Denmark, while the second-placed side goes into a play-off.

"This is a very difficult draw as fourth seeds," King said, "but overall I am happy with the teams drawn and the fixtures which were agreed."

Irish Independent