Schoolboy football in chaos as SFAI defy FAI over cup dispute
THE future of the Schoolboys FAI (SFAI) as an entity could be in jeopardy after their council defied the FAI's wishes on Saturday by throwing the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) out of their national cups.
Last week, the governing body had tabled a proposal to broker peace between the SFAI and DDSL in an ongoing dispute that has left 3,000 players without participation in the illustrious SFAI All-Ireland Cup competitions from U-12 to U-16.
The resolution -- which involved the DDSL supplying the four qualifiers from their region into the main competition by February as well as quashing a €30,000 fine -- was accompanied by a promise of action in January from the FAI if the issue remained unresolved.
There was no explanation given to delegates as to how the DDSL would supply the four teams, arousing suspicion that they would deviate from the rule decreeing that it is conducted through an unseeded system.
Although this document was agreed to by the DDSL board within 24 hours, their affiliation body, the SFAI, awaited direction from the members of their council at Saturday's meeting in Wexford.
The FAI's delegate, Terry McAuley, cautioned his fellow members on the repercussions of such a course of action. His pleadings were ignored as the proposal was flatly rejected in a vote with 30 votes in favour and none against. There were four abstentions.
Saturday was the juncture in the national cup competitions where qualifiers from the eight regions are drawn to play each other at the last-32 stage.
Due to the vote, that format was dispensed with and instead a draw comprising of 28 teams, without the DDSL qualifiers, was staged instead. A motion to persevere with the competitions until the final, irrespective of any intervention from the FAI, received overwhelming support.
"This is a landmark day because, for too long, the DDSL board of directors have tried to derail the SFAI Cups," said one league secretary present at the Talbot Hotel who didn't wish to be named.
Still, with 180 teams in the DDSL being left on the shelf due to a mess they had no part in creating, the onus is on the FAI to intervene.
One of the options possibly under consideration by the FAI is suspending the SFAI and instead running the competition themselves in-house with a new draw including the DDSL teams.
If the FAI hierarchy choose this route, however, it would appear extremely risky based upon the mood of defiance on Saturday.
Efforts yesterday afternoon by the Irish Independent to procure a reaction from the FAI proved unsuccessful.