Monaghan United pull-out a severe blow to FAI

 

AIRTRICITY LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISIONTHE LEAGUE of Ireland was dealt a severe blow yesterday when Premier Division side Monaghan United announced they were pulling out of the league.

The Ulster side, managed by Roddy Collins, cited financial reasons as the main factor in their decision, which comes before the season has even reached the halfway stage.

Monaghan are not the first club to withdraw from the league mid-season. Financial reasons meant Dublin City made that same move back in 2006; and Sporting Fingal left the league before the start of the 2011 season.

The news comes at a difficult time for domestic football, with several clubs hampered by low attendances and financial difficulties. Dundalk were forced to lay off non-playing staff members in May, while players at the Oriel Park club went unpaid for a period, though The Irish Times understands the situation at Dundalk is under control.

In a statement, the FAI said Monaghan United had met with the National League Director, Fran Gavin, in the past month and no indication of their decision was flagged at that meeting.

Gavin said: “We met with the officials of Monaghan United less than a month ago to get an update on where they were with their budget for the season. At that time there was absolutely no question of withdrawing from the league.

“We have been assisting the club in recent weeks to try and help them source a main sponsor.”

The FAI outlined that Monaghan United had received significant support from the association and the National League, including a facility development loan for €150,000 of which over €100,000 is still outstanding.

The FAI also provided a €25,000 grant to the club in 2009 during its AGM in Monaghan, as well as securing Sports Capital Grants for the club. Gavin described the announcement as a surprise and very disappointing.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Monaghan United’s assistant media officer, Julie-Ann Sherlock, explained that a lack of finance ultimately led to the club’s decision to pull out of the League of Ireland.

“We had promises of sponsorship that, sadly, fell through. We had made projections at the start of the season that were realistic but, sadly, fell short. Roddy Collins wasn’t splashing money around on wages and the wages we had in place were not outrageous.

“But this is not the end of the club, far from it. We want to develop the club structures and that would include elements such as the juvenile section and ladies team. Nothing is fully decided; nothing is set in stone, but the club will continue.”

The players’ union, the PFAI, in a statement, criticised the manner in which the club announced its decision, claiming “many players” heard the news on social media outlets such as Twitter.

However, Sherlock said Collins and two players’ representatives were told of the clubs decision before it was made public and were to inform the playing staff.

“It is regrettable if any player was not contactable but our press release was not issued maliciously and it was never our intention any player would hear the news on Twitter.”