No matches, no training, no wages and living out of a suitcase.
That’s the new normal for some footballers as the League of Ireland tries to grapple with the punishing impact of Covid-19.
Cork City’s players were the second group to be told that their wages could not be paid due to the slump in income during the absence of football which will last for at least three months.
Dylan McGlade has been impacted by his move from his native Dublin to Cork, to play for the Turner’s Cross club.
In previous times of crisis in the boom-and-bust cycle of League of Ireland football, there was anger among players when their wages went unpaid due to the clubs’ financial difficulties but despite being told to expect no more than the State-backed payment of €203 a week for the foreseeable future, former Middlesbrough man McGlade is understanding.
“Of course we’d like to get paid the value of our contracts but we need clubs to survive, that’s the bottom line for players,” says McGlade, who had hoped that after spells with Shelbourne, St Patrick’s Athletic, Longford Town, Bray Wanderers and Blyth Spartans that his career could really take off this season at Cork.
“There’s no anger in the squad about this. We know this is a national issue, everyone is in it together and footballers aren’t the exception.
“My brother is a barber, his work has closed so I know that so many people are affected. The clubs are doing the best they can to get through this.”
Sligo Rovers were the first Premier Division club to react to the crisis, laying off the entire club staff, while two days later Cork City confirmed they could only pay their players as far as this week.
“We have been in constant contact with the club and the PFAI. We will be paid this week but the week after that we’ll get the Covid-19 payment from the State, but it will go through the club, so we will get paid but not the normal amount.
“But things change every day and it’s a matter of us, and the PFAI, staying in touch with the club, they are exploring if something more can be done on top of the basic social welfare payment,” added McGlade.
“The club has to survive so it’s a matter of working out a mechanism that’s best for two parties.
“But this does show how precarious football is here when clubs are relying on gates from week to week.
“When we were told that our game, against Bohs, was off, we were told to go home for the weekend and come in for training the following Monday.
“I came home to my parents’ house in Dublin that Friday and I have basically stayed there since. I only packed a bag for the weekend and that was two weeks ago so I need to go down to Cork this week to collect some stuff.
“It’s not affecting us too much as the squad, in general, are younger lads, we don’t have mortgages; if we had mortgages and loans, it would be a lot more serious.
My accommodation is still there but there’s no point in me being there if we can’t train. We have been sent programmes to do on our own to try and stay fit but the houses we were staying in are still there.”
League of Ireland
Bohemians have reassured their players that their contracts will be honoured and that they will be paid their wages this season as the League of Ireland struggles to cope with the impact of Covid-19.