Saturday 20 July 2019

Bray Wanderers' careers are in doubt over unpaid wages fiasco

Bray Wanderers captain Conor Kenna leads out his team
Bray Wanderers captain Conor Kenna leads out his team

Anne-Marie Walsh

A Bray Wanderers footballer has revealed he may give up his full-time career after being left with no pay since May.

Paul O'Conor (30), from Dún Laoghaire, also said some of his colleagues who suffered injuries have been forced to pay for their own operations.

The club would normally foot the bill for an operation.

Members of the Bray squad are now set to go on strike after voting overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

They will serve notice of a 24-hour stoppage next Tuesday that will hit a match with Cork City on July 27.

A match with Bohemians next Friday will go ahead because they do not have enough time to give their employer the legally required seven days' notice. This is because the notification letter has to be signed off by Siptu first.

John Sullivan. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
John Sullivan. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Sources also revealed that players at Limerick FC may follow their lead following a meeting next week.

A spokesperson at the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland said players at that club are also owed unpaid wages.

He said around €50,000 may be owed to the Bray players who have not been paid since May 25.

"I'm questioning whether I'll play the sport next year," said Mr O'Conor, who lives with his girlfriend in Cherrywood, Dublin. "This may lead me to go part-time. I will have to weigh it up at the end of the season. I don't think it's sustainable at the moment."

He said he found out on a bus to Limerick for a game that his wages would not be paid, but it could be in his bank account soon.

"We've all found it very difficult to survive," he said. "We're all inexperienced at industrial action and no one knows where to take it next. We've never been here before. I don't have a family, but obviously those that do are feeling the pinch."

His team-mate John Sullivan said he had to come up with €3,000 for a hernia operation in June.

"The club is saying there is no money for wages at the moment," he said. "There are promises of money coming in but it hasn't come in.

"In terms of the injury, it was a very frustrating period. I was ringing the surgeon's clinic asking if it had been paid for before the operation and they said if it wasn't I'd miss the slot. So I had to pay for it."

It is understood five members of the squad have exited the club after chairman Gerry Mulvey gave them the option to depart as free agents.

In a statement, the Bray players said going on strike was one of the hardest decisions of their professional careers and reached with the heaviest of hearts. "We have now lost all trust in the club to respect our contracts," they said.

They said they hoped in vain that the Football Association of Ireland would attempt to resolve the problems but does not appear to have any plan to resolve the crisis."

There was no response from Bray Wanderers office yesterday.

The Football Association of Ireland did not respond to a request for comment.

Irish Independent

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