Sunday 21 January 2018

Collins calls in lawyers to fight fine for FAI remarks

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

RODDY COLLINS will meet with his solicitor this morning to consider his options after being hit with a fine of €1,000 or an alternative option of a six-game touchline ban as punishment for comments he made about the FAI on RTE radio.

The Monaghan United manager has been sanctioned for his part in the same 'Saturday Sport' segment that resulted in presenter Des Cahill being blacklisted by the authorities in Abbotstown.

Collins was vocal in a discussion with fellow pundit Damien Richardson and Cahill on July 16 -- the same day as the FAI's AGM in Clare.

The general finances of the association were discussed, including the €400,000 salary of CEO John Delaney, and the FAI were unhappy with the content, expressing their thoughts in correspondence with RTE.

They subsequently told RTE that requests to speak to members of the Irish U-19 squad that were starring in the European Championships would be refused if Cahill was the intended interviewer. However, the FAI said it was nothing to do with salary matters, and instead stressed that their grievances were related to the "association and company related matters."

They took action against Collins along those lines, taking issue with general comments the pundit made about the state of the game in Ireland.

In particular, they were unhappy that he was critical of the administration of the League of Ireland and the manner in which the league was run.

He also spoke strongly about what he deemed as the poor standard of facilities in the country, pointing out that some of the better grounds were owned by local councils rather than clubs.

Erroneously, he lumped the home of Cork City in this bracket, when Turner's Cross actually belongs to the Munster Football Association.

The FAI decided that his comments were in breach of their guidelines, citing Rule 94 of their rule book which is titled 'Disparaging Comments.'

It covers (1) Comments which are threatening in any way, (2) Comments causing damage to the game or bringing the game into disrepute and (3) Unsubstantiated allegations which question any person or bodies' integrity or are disparaging in any way.

The FAI's Disciplinary Unit said that Collins had made statements which were 'disparaging'. In his defence, which consisted of two lengthy hearings, the former Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers manager brought forward five witnesses who had listened to the show and offered the view that his comments did not come under that heading.

Nevertheless, the disciplinary committee ruled against Collins, and handed out a €1,000 fine or else a dugout ban for the last six games of the First Division season. Monaghan are third in the table with a real chance of promotion.

The 50-year-old refused to comment on the case last night, only saying that he would be in discussions with his legal representatives this morning before deciding whether to appeal.

It's understood his team believe they have grounds to fight the case, and still dispute whether his comments were that offensive.

Under the terms of the 'Participation Agreement' with league clubs, the FAI hierarchy have been coming down strongly on managers who publicly voice criticisms.

The FAI have also stopped publicly releasing a list of sanctions, which means that some fines or punishments have slipped under the radar.

They are refusing to comment on the Collins case when the possibility of an appeal is pending.

Irish Independent

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