Monday 11 December 2017

Pat's count cost of success ahead of marathon trip into unknown

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ST Patrick's Athletic look set to make little or no money from reaching the Europa League second qualifying round after they were forced to splash out around €60,000 on flights to Kazakhstan.

The Saints' victory over Icelandic side IBV on Thursday night booked their place against Shakhter Karagandy in the next round, but their dubious reward is a nightmare 5,000km trip to the east of Kazakhstan, an oil-rich former Soviet state.

Pete Mahon's men take on Dundalk on Sunday at Richmond Park and leave for London on Tuesday lunchtime.

From there they will take the eight-hour overnight flight to Almaty before connecting to Karagandy and arriving at 5pm -- just over 24 hours before kick off.

The club have contacted Slovenia's FC Koper, who lost 2-1 in Kazakhstan on Thursday and have been advised to find accommodation elsewhere after some of their players contracted food poisoning in the build up to the game.

While details of accommodation had yet to be finalised last night, it looks like the club will stay in former capital Astana -- the biggest city in Kazakhstan -- which is 200km from the match venue.

Visas are being fast-tracked as there is usually a five-working-day turnaround for applications.

postponement

Pat's have been helped by the postponement of their fixture with Bohemians, which was originally set to take place tomorrow week.

The Saints will not depart Kazakhstan until next Saturday.

Jet lag will also be a concern, with a five-hour time difference between Dublin and Karagandy.

The club have admitted the trip will eat up their €90,000 prize money and they will not be turning to owner Garrett Kelleher for a dig out.

"For any club involved in Europe, the UEFA prize money does not come in until the season is finished. It is very hard to get an advance on that money so it will impact on the cash flow no doubt," said club secretary Anthony Delaney.

"We won't necessarily ask Garrett, but we will explore every avenue to try and get the funds.

"I don't think it will be a major issue but it will cost a lot.

"It will cost at least the majority of the prize fund we get for this round. Hopefully we get through this round and have another one then to bank on."

Meanwhile, the Showgrounds has been given the green light to play host to Sligo Rovers' Europa League third-round qualifying round tie as long as they complete minor upgrades to the ground.

A temporary stand will be erected to bring the seated capacity up to 3,600, while the pitch will be extended.

Irish Independent

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