Monday 10 December 2018

'Everyone's been landed in the bulls**t, stereotypical, League of Ireland situation' - Crisis in Limerick as players not paid

Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Andrew Cunneen

Limerick FC are set to lose most of their key players as the club failed to pay the entire squad's wages for the month of May.

The Shannonsiders will have to further reduce their budget if they're going to be able to field a team for the remainder of the season, thus leaving them incapable of holding onto their bigger earners.

Blues boss Tommy Barrett had been questioned by the Limerick Leader a few days prior to the Bohemians game regarding monies owed to his players but pointed out that their contracts state they're not technically due until the first Friday of each month – which coincided with their huge clash against Keith Long's Bohs.

The club set a meeting between players, coaching staff and board members for 6pm that took place in the dressing room at the Markets Field, during which the club officials revealed that sponsors' cheques hadn't come through.

As officials and club staff left the dressing room, the Limerick players deliberated before agreeing to play the game against the Gypsies regardless. Only a late Dan Casey goal would deprive them of a first home league win since they defeated Bray back in March.

While the younger players in the group sought guidance, senior pros stood up. One of those was Brendan Clarke, who was more level-headed than most following an arduous evening in Garryowen.

"We were told to be there for six, which was early for a matchday," Clarke said.

"The club apologised for lateness of wages and said they're waiting on sponsors cheques to clear. Club officials then told us that the way things are, we're free to go and 'We won't stand in your way'.

"After the meeting, officials left and then coaching staff left," Clarke said. "We had a discussion about whether or not we'd play – do we or do we not? Do we train or do we not?

"Everyone's now been landed in the bullshit, stereotypical, League of Ireland situation, which is embarrassing. It's a real eye-opener for some of younger lads in the squad.

"But we decided there was no point in making a bad situation worse. We also said to anyone that if they didn't feel they could give 100%, not for the club, for the players next to them in that dressing room, that they didn't have to play at all.

"To be fair, everyone who was fit and available for selection, they said they'd commit to playing and give everything they had for their team-mates. I think to perform the way we did given what we'd been through just before the game can leave no supporter, commentator or analyst questioning the character or integrity of that squad.

"We were assured that we wouldn't be owed a penny by the club, just that they couldn't tell us when the money would be there."

Despite having frontloaded fixtures which saw the Blues host 11 home games in just 94 days, cashflow issues persisted, landing them in this situation.

The club are in the process of paying back what is owed, while a reversion to part-time football is being touted as an option until season's end at least.

Key players have already been offered terms elsewhere around the league and those deals should be completed in the coming weeks.

Limerick currently sit just seven points ahead of basement side Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table.

The club were contacted for comment on the matter.

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