PFAI secretary McGuinness welcomes earlier close-season signing of players


Stephen McGuinness, general secretary of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI), has given a guarded welcome to the “dramatic shift” in League of Ireland clubs signing players considerably earlier in the close season than in previous years.

Many clubs have reported new signings, or re-signings, since the season ended with the cup final on November 4th.

“The one thing we’ve seen a significant difference in is the amount of players being signed a lot earlier than before,” said McGuinness at yesterday’s announcement of the PFAI’s six-week close season training camp for out-of-contract players and their participation for a third year in the Fifpro Winter Tournament in Oslo in January.

“That’s huge, (for example) Drogheda United signing 16 players. When we came back from the tournament last year Mick (Cooke, Drogheda manager) met every player as he had no players on his books. There has been a dramatic shift.

“It’s great news, absolutely fantastic, that many players are signing so early. But there is a word of warning on it that if budgets don’t match up, the contracts could be returned to the players.”

Pat Scully, sacked by newly-promoted Limerick FC a fortnight ago, will take charge of the training camp and the squad for the Fifpro tournament.

As in previous years, the four-team Fifpro funded tournament on January 10th also includes sides from Sweden, Norway and Finland with clubs from around Europe invited to send a scout to run the rule over the out-of-contract players.

In each of the previous two seasons they’ve been involved, every one of the PFAI players who participated has subsequently got a club.

Thirty-six players were named on a list yesterday for the training camp at the AUL Complex in Dublin, with a squad of 19 expected to go to Norway in January.

Bohemians yesterday announced that manager Aaron Callaghan has signed a new two-year contract. The club also agreed terms with English Championship side Charlton Athletic for 20-year-old central defender Kevin Feely.

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