Friday 27 April 2018

Clubs back Limerick in row with FAI over Barca friendly

D McDonnell

THE war of words between Limerick FC and the FAI has escalated with the other League of Ireland clubs backing the Shannonsiders in their demands for the exact detail of the third-party agreement which looks to have scuppered the prospect of Barcelona visiting these shores.

A meeting of league members in Dublin before last night's FAI Cup draw resulted in an informal motion being supported with general dissatisfaction at the reasons offered by the association for blocking the proposed Barca visit for July 31.

Abbotstown officials stated earlier in the day that they were simply unable to grant permission for a friendly match involving a club with an attendance in excess of 20,000 spectators because it breached the private deal. By the evening, they had revised that figure to 15,000.

With the FAI denying that the arrangement is with regular partners Kentaro or a financial institution, and speculation that another global agency who deals in TV rights is involved, the clubs feel they are entitled to press for clarity from CEO John Delaney.

The FAI defend their confidential stance on the basis that their Participation Agreement with the league members allows them to 'enter any commercial agreement which it sees as beneficial to the game'.

Limerick feel this is not a strong enough reason to prevent the visit of the Catalan outfit, especially as the FAI have admitted they want to secure the La Liga winners as well and hold the authority from FIFA to decide what games take place under their jurisdiction.

The cap of 15,000 spectators came as news to the 19 league clubs represented at the meeting, particularly those who had budgets passed by the FAI that included a provision for earning €100,000 from friendly matches.

Limerick -- whose negotiations with Barcelona were conducted through UK-based agent Simon Firth -- have admitted that the Spanish side are now looking elsewhere for a fixture on the date in question with the impasse holding up the construction of their pre-season schedule.

Irish Independent

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