Thursday 14 December 2017

Angry Russell hits out over RTE coverage of UCD

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

UCD Football Club have written to RTE to complain about what they perceive as unfair coverage they have received on 'Monday Night Soccer' (MNS).

The club are incensed by comments made by pundit Dave Barry on last week's programme which implied that they hold an advantage over relegation rivals Dundalk because most of their players are students.

"They are bottom of the table, there is no pressure on them, financially there is no talk about paying rent or mortgages," former Cork City man Barry said.

"UCD haven't got that burden. For them, it's 'I have to pass my exams, I can go home or whatever' whereas Dundalk are a professional club, trying to play in a professional league and stay in this league which is very, very difficult."

UCD manager Martin Russell addressed the matter in his interview with MNS after the defeat to Bohemians last Sunday, but the club remain unhappy with how the matter was dealt with by presenter Con Murphy and the pundits on Monday.

In the letter, seen by the Irish Independent, they state: "UCD operate in the same financial environment as every other club in the league, taking on the added expense of putting their players through the education system.

"Dave Barry was comparing UCD and Dundalk, and UCD appear to come off second best when he talks about professionalism and a desire to stay in the league.

"The players at UCD should not be ridiculed for making a conscientious decision to pursue their education, while also taking on the pressures of playing against the best sides in the country week in, week out."

Russell denied that UCD are afforded any advantage over other clubs because they are a university team, and feels that pundits should be wary of making sweeping statements.

"Our players watch MNS and to make a comment like that is wrong," he said. "We are a serious club and we have the same ambitions as Dundalk. Our club has made sacrifices that are to be applauded, but we have been described as being inferior when compared to Dundalk.

"Our players take a path that pairs football and education, but that is being ridiculed. While we struggle with attendances, we do other things better than other clubs and merit our place because of how we manage our finances."

This is the second time in three weeks that MNS has been plunged into controversy after Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny refused to do post-match interviews in protest at comments made by reporter Tony O'Donoghue on Twitter and pundit Richie Sadlier on the programme.

RTE were forced to apologise to Kenny, who carried out an interview after last Friday's draw with Dundalk.

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