Wexford Youths turn to crowdfunding for Champions League campaign
Women’s National League champions are in Lithuania for series of qualifying games
Wexford Youth claimed the treble in 2018, including a cup final win over Peamount United. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Women’s National League champions Wexford Youths have launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs involved in their Champions League qualifying campaign.
The players already pay €500 a year each to play for a side that have won three of the last four league titles and claimed a treble in 2018.
However, the expense of travelling to Lithuania to face three other sides hoping to qualify for the last 32 of the competition has left them seeking help from fans and sponsors.
“The main problem is that we don’t get any money until after the tournament is over so we have to fundraise for any expenses,” said club secretary David Cassin.
He is hoping that European soccer’s governing body Uefa will make a payment to the club by the end of August.
Wexford Youths lost their first game to Albanian champions Vllaznia 3-1 and now face hosts Gintra Universitetas on Saturday and Malta’s Birkirkara on Tuesday in a four-team group.
The 10 group winners join 22 elite clubs in the last 32, where the likes of European champions Olympique Lyonnais await.
Wexford estimate they still need an extra €6,000 to cover expenses such as flights, hotels and meals for the group stage.
A sponsor stepped in to pay for the cost of sending their kit to Lithuania, but Cassin does not want to put the burden on his players to foot the rest of the bill.
“They are under enough pressure doing their normal day-to-day jobs, training three or four times a week and then playing games as well,” he said.
Wexford Youths has a soldier, a carpenter and several teachers in the squad plus several university students.
Although Uefa will reimburse most of the costs, the FAI has declined to give the club the money and Wexford youths have turned to crowdfunding to cover the rest. Around €800 has been raised so far, Cassin said.
“I don’t want to dig a hole for myself, but it’s frustrating,” he added. “We still have to deal with the FAI on a daily basis.
“It’s not fair when you see the prizemoney that the [men’s] Premier Division and First Division get. Put that against what we get for winning the league and it’s buttons.
“It’s like firefighting the whole time – you’re trying to put out fires all the time, and keep the wolf away from the door,” he said.
Cassin wants the FAI to support clubs reaching the Women’s Champions League. “If they could do that, then we could concentrate on the football,” he said.