Wednesday 22 May 2019

Power fury over UEFA licence blow

Waterford FC owner Lee Power is considering his future within Irish football due to his unhappiness about the episode. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Waterford FC owner Lee Power is considering his future within Irish football due to his unhappiness about the episode. Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Waterford owner Lee Power has called for a ‘full investigation’ into the FAI’s handling of the process which led to their rejection for a place in Europe this year.

He made the call in a statement which confirmed Waterford will appeal the UEFA decision and may also seek compensation after budgeting for the €240,000 minimum prize fund.

Power is considering his future within Irish football due to his unhappiness about the episode.

Waterford made a trading loss of €562,000 last year and are reliant on his support to prop them up – in that context the European rewards were vital.

It was UEFA who made the call, citing a rule related to clubs that have been in existence for less than three years.

Power’s gripe is that discussions with FAI officials had indicated they would be fine; League of Ireland chief Fran Gavin also gave positive interviews about their prospects.

Swindon Town owner Power rode to the rescue of the troubled Suirsiders at the end of 2016, renaming the club by dropping ‘United’ from their title and forming a new trading company.

That did not satisfy UEFA – it’s understood there was an issue related to a creditor from the old club which meant they did not qualify for an exception to the three-year rule.

“We feel we have been totally misled by the FAI and were given assurances throughout this five-month process by them that the licence would be granted,” said Power, before Waterford’s 2-0 win over Cork last night. “We also had club visits by UEFA delegates during this period. No issues were raised.

“As a club, we entered into substantial commercial agreements and invested heavily again into the team and also budgeted for the qualification money due in November. This will now have a serious financial impact on the club going forward.

“The circumstances to which this decision has been made and the events over the last week are unclear and dubious, bearing in mind representations made to us and assurances given.

“We will be asking for a full investigation into the FAI handling of this matter.

“I have instructed my UK Lawyers to lodge an immediate appeal with UEFA and will pursue any legal avenue we have with regards to compensation and/or any wrongdoing against a number of parties.”

St Patrick’s Athletic are next in line to benefit. They wrote to the FAI to notify them of concerns they had about Waterford’s eligibility and have undergone the process required to qualify for a UEFA pass.

Their owner and benefactor, Garrett Kelleher, was also in contact with the FAI during the process.

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