Soccer:Derry City officials have reacted furiously at the FAI's decision to terminate the club's contract with the League of Ireland, claiming yesterday's emergency hearing in Abbotstown was like a "witch hunt" and will now consider mounting a legal challenge.
At yesterday’s meeting with the FAI Board of Management Derry City were found to have held “secondary unofficial contracts with its players” and as a result the FAI “took the decision to terminate Derry City Football Club’s contract”.
Derry City were represented by the club’s chairman, Pat McDaid, the club secretary, Joe W Doherty and the club’s solicitor, Desmond Doherty, who were clearly unhappy with the procedure and outcome of events at FAI headquarters.
“At the conclusion of the hearing we were presented with a six-point decision after being kept waiting in a room for over two hours without explanation,” the club’s statement read.
“We were told by the FAI we have no appeal against the decision made. We were refused sight of any documentation in advance of the hearing and during the hearing.
“The only document produced was incomplete and was provided to us at the end of the hearing with the decision. The hearing was oppressive and in our view was like a witch hunt.
“The said decision was already predetermined and in our view a hidden agenda exists within the FAI in relation to Derry City Football Club as demonstrated by their behaviour today (Saturday).”
Derry had asked that the hearing be adjourned and “formally objected to the hearing before it got under way” yesterday but “both applications were rejected”.
The FAI said Derry City had previously admitted to their wrongdoing over secondary player contracts.
“The Board of Management of the FAI reached its decision following statements from FAI personnel that Derry City FC had admitted to them at a meeting of November 4th (held at the request of Derry City FC), to holding second unofficial contracts with its players. There is contractual evidence to substantiate this," the FAI statement read.
The governing body added that a delegation would meet with Derry City officials and relevant stakeholders in the coming weeks to consider how the club can move forward and compete in senior football next season.
As it stands the club is not be allowed to compete in the Premier Division next season and participation in any other league depends on the normal licensing process.
However Derry City has no intention of accepting the outcome and intends to appeal.
“The decision has devastating consequences for this club but we intend to address these consequences urgently,” the club’s statement added. “We are currently exploring any possibility of any type of appeal procedure within the FAI or via a court of law in Dublin or Belfast.
“We have not been presented with any evidence of any wrong doing on behalf of the club or any one, or any organisation associated with the club. It is our respectful view that the board of the FAI should be ashamed of themselves in presiding over a completely unfair process which shows a complete lack of respect to us, our players, manager, staff, club volunteers and fans.
“The FAI refused to supply us with the monies we are legally and legitimately due as a result of finishing fourth in the Premier League. The FAI has also said they are considering what to do in relation to the monies we are due and owed in relation to our participation in European soccer this season.”
It is no secret the Brandywell, like so many other domestic clubs, have struggled to meet their financial commitments for some time with players largely unpaid at the bradywell for the last nine weeks. Other debts have been mounting to the point where, while estimates vary considerably, there appears to be upwards of €300,000 owed in total.
The outcome means the forthcoming Setanta Sports Cup match involving Derry City next Tuesday has been postponed, pending discussions with the Irish Football Association, through the Setanta Sports Cup Committee.
On the relegation front Drogheda United will now play bottom of the table side Bray Wanderers in the Premier Division play-off next Tuesday.