Saturday 16 December 2017

McGuinness slams clubs' short-term mindset

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

PFAI chief Stephen McGuinness has warned that League of Ireland clubs need to abandon short-term thinking if they are to keep their best talent at home.

Clubs have been signing players on one-year, 40-week contracts in recent seasons in an effort to scale back their costs and this, combined with the uncertainty surrounding managers in the league, has led to a stagnation in player movement and the potential loss of top talent, including the likes of Richie Ryan, who is believed to be close to a free transfer to Dundee United.

"The biggest problem we have got in the league is that clubs only have one-year contracts," McGuinness said. "Sligo Rovers have no players in contract. How can that happen? How can a team who won the cup and finished second have no players in contract? It beggars belief.

"Richie Ryan is their captain and there have been no discussions with Sligo with regards to his future. It just baffles me that clubs can go on like that.

"Clubs are afraid of being caught back in the position that they were in before. There is no foresight. You need a two or three-year plan to build a club, what's happening now is that players are going and clubs are not getting any fees for them."

Speaking on the day the PFAI released a list of 120 out-of-contract players who are on the lookout for clubs, McGuinness said the managerial situation in the League of Ireland has compounded the problems his members have had trying to get new contracts.

"Over 90pc of players in the league are out of contract and the managerial situation is causing a bigger issue," McGuinness said.

"St Pat's, Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk -- there seems to be uncertainty about who will be there next season, so when that gets cleared up hopefully we'll see the players' situation sorted."

There are some high-profile names among the list of released players, with PFAI Player of the Year Eamon Zayed and former Ireland international Jason Byrne among those available for free.

The union will again send a team to the FIFPro-organised tournament in Norway on December 16, where an 18-man squad, under the tutelage of former Shamrock Rovers assistant manager Trevor Croly, will showcase their talents in front of coaches and scouts against players in a similar situation from Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Meanwhile, McGuinness revealed that the structure of next year's league season has yet to be decided by the FAI.

"There is a lot to talk about the league next year, what format it will take," he said. "There is talk that there might be a break with the top six and bottom six. Whether that's a good idea, I don't know."

Irish Independent

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