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Rovers chairman quits after debts row

A CHAPTER in Shamrock Rovers' history came to an end yesterday when it was announced that chairman Tony Maguire had resigned after two and a half years at the helm of the club.

Maguire, along with fellow director, Paul Boyle, took the decision to resign following a meeting with the FAI Club Licensing Committee that had sought answers to a number of questions relating to Rovers' Club Licence application.

The FAI requested answers to a number of questions after discovering that the company which owns Rovers, Branvard Limited, had revealed in a High Court petition for Examinership that it had debts of over ?2.3 million; over ?600,000 more than previously revealed to the Club Licensing Department.

The Club Licensing Committee broke up their meeting on Wednesday night without agreement though a decision on whether the club should be punished or not is expected today as is an official statement from Maguire and Boyle.

The two directors' decision to resign will not affect the FAI's position nor will it affect the continued day-to-day running of the club by the Examinership steering group.

"The Examiner needs two directors in situ and Branvard still have two directors, John Breen and Tony Ennis," a source said.

Maguire was chairman since October 2002 during one of the most tumultuous times in Shamrock Rovers history.

During his tenure, there was no building work at the club's proposed new home in Tallaght as the club stumbled into greater and greater debt.

In the last two seasons, the club's players contemplated strike action after wages were not paid and, even this season, the club was struggling before going into Examinership.

Maguire has long been unpopular with Rovers' supporters after pledging to hold regular meetings with them upon his appointment, though only a handful of meetings were held while the supporters' representative on the Branvard board, Mark Lynch, resigned after a brief stint.

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But also during Maguire's tenure, the 400 Club was launched, a supporters trust which has grown to such a size that it is now bankrolling the club and has begun a takeover bid.

It is understood that Maguire and Boyle decided to resign to allow prospective new investors a clean slate when they eventually do take over Shamrock Rovers, believing that a new full-time regime with no debts from the past, is the best way forward.

Along with the 400 Club, a number of other names have been mentioned as potential investors including Gretna chairman Brooks Mileson, former FAI CEO Fran Rooney and former Shamrock Rovers manager Liam Buckley.

However, one of those reported to be a potential investor, former Republic of Ireland striker John Aldridge has emphatically denied that he is interested in joining the club.

Reports yesterday suggested Aldridge was fronting a bid backed by Manchester City striker Robbie Fowler and Liverpool building tycoon Steve Morgan though Aldridge's agent Dave Lockwood refuted the claims.

"It's absolute garbage," he said. "It sounds like someone is trying to generate cheap publicity for Shamrock Rovers."

Meanwhile, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney hoped to meet members of the National League Supporters Association yesterday to discuss the cut in tickets available to eircom League supporters' clubs for international matches.

However, the meeting was cancelled after NLSA members were unable to attend because of work commitments.

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