Friday 19 January 2018

FAI docks ten points from Cork but promises to help solve crisis

Daniel McDonnell

THE FAI'S licensing committee last night docked troubled Cork City ten Premier Division points as punishment for going into examinership.

Neil Hughes, who has been tasked with steering the club out of their current financial difficulties, met the licensing body at Abbotstown yesterday morning to explain the dire straits which the Leesiders are currently in and to outline his measures to take them out of trouble with a lengthy list of creditors to be satisfied.

However, the licensing officials subsequently met and released a statement late last night explaining the sanctions they have imposed on Alan Mathews' side.

"Following Arkaga's regrettable decision to renege on its written undertaking to guarantee all liabilities arising at Cork City Investment FC Ltd until January 2009, the club entered into examinership on August 18," read the statement.

"The FAI has already expressed its displeasure at Arkaga's actions which have placed the club in the difficult position it currently finds itself.

"The FAI met this morning with the examiner appointed to Cork City Investment FC Ltd. He expressed his desire for a quick decision from Licensing regarding a sanction for Cork City FC as it would make it more desirable for the investors currently interested in the club to proceed with their intentions.

"A meeting of the Independent Club Licensing committee was convened tonight and they deducted 10 points from Cork City FC for being involved in an examinership process as per section 3.1.2 of the club licensing manual. This sanction is effective immediately. The Committee was keen to express that it is imperative for all clubs to adhere to sound financial policies.

"Now that the club has entered into examinership, the FAI has provided the examiner with a letter stating that the FAI will support the club during the examinership process as it strives to regain sound financial footing."

The decision leaves Cork on 35 points in the Premier Division table, tied for fourth place with Drogheda United and 23 points behind leaders Bohemians.

Other Premier Division clubs, particularly those in trouble in the nether regions of the table, were understood to be monitoring the situation closely and considering protesting if Cork receive what they would deem as favourable treatment.

The PFAI moved to clarify yesterday that the pay cut which the Leesiders' players agreed to on Wednesday was only a deferral, rather than an acceptance that they would never receive the 70% of their earnings that they have sacrificed for the time-being.

If investors come into the club, then the squad will look for this money, although it's thought they would be amenable to a settlement rather than the entire amount if they were satisfied about the long-term health of the Turner's Cross side -- particularly as nine players are out of contract in November.

Ten members of staff were let go on Wednesday, with others agreeing to stay on in a part-time basis and double jobbing for the time being.

By taking cost-cutting measures off the field, it is hoped that within a few weeks, players will be receiving 40pc of their wages. If investors come in, and the supporters group FORAS reach their targets after their pledge to help out, then the percentage could rise to 50pc as Hughes looks to gradually steer the club out of their dire plight.

FAI CEO John Delaney yesterday denied that the association should feel any responsibility for the Cork situation, and instead strongly criticised owners the Arkaga Fund who reneged on a commitment to keep investing money into their project.

He also defended the FAI's stewardship of the Eircom League after two years where repeated difficulties have being felt around the country.

"If someone comes in, buys a club, and says they will honour commitments and then don't do it, the FAI can't be responsible for that," said Delaney.

"All we can do is deal with the circumstances that arise from it."

"What I want to see, and the FAI want to see, is a strong club in Cork."

"I shudder to think where the league would be if we hadn't taken it over."

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