Sunday 21 July 2019

Waterford in limbo as Euro doubts prompt Power exit fears over potential €240k budget hit

Waterford FC owner Lee Power. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Waterford FC owner Lee Power. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The future of Waterford FC is clouded in uncertainty after they were informed they do not meet the criteria to compete in Europe.

Owner Lee Power is understood to be livid and considering his future in Irish football - a major worry for the Blues who made a trading loss of €562,000 last year and are reliant on his financial backing.

They had budgeted for participation in the Europa League this term, a spot worth a minimum of €240,000.

Next in line St Patrick's Athletic launched an objection to the Blues receiving the licence to compete, citing a UEFA rule related to clubs that have been in existence for fewer than three years.

Power took control of Waterford at the end of 2016 when a new trading company was established and the club dropped United from their title.

To meet UEFA criteria, all creditors from the old company have to be paid off and Power believed he had gone through the correct process to address this problem - a view informed by chats with leading FAI officials.

In February, the FAI's competitions director Fran Gavin told media that there didn't seem to be any obstacle to the Blues receiving the all-clear from UEFA.

"We don't see any significant issues around Waterford that would prohibit them from getting a licence," said Gavin.

That view was informed by chats with leading FAI officials.

Suitable arrangements with creditors need to be reached in order for a club to qualify for a domestic licence.

In February, the FAI’s competitions director Fran Gavin told media that there didn’t seem to be any obstacle to the Blues receiving the all-clear from UEFA.

“We don’t see any significant issues around Waterford that would prohibit them from getting a licence,” said Gavin.

However, the Saints were given reason to believe that the Blues did not tick all the boxes and outlined their case in correspondence with the FAI officials – including ex-CEO John Delaney.

They have been working on this issue for a number of months and had put the requisite plans in place to apply for a licence themselves in case Waterford were knocked back.

And their view was ultimately supported by UEFA.

It’s a devastating blow for Waterford and for Power, who released a statement in support of Delaney during the recent crisis that has engulfed Irish football. Limerick were the only other League of Ireland club to do so.

Delaney played a major part in the process of Power taking control of the Blues.

Irish Independent

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