Irish schoolboy clubs consider legal action over new league line-up
FAI decision to admit St Kevin’s Boys to national Under-15s league prompts anger
FAI’s high performance director Ruud Dokter: St Kevin’s “have signed a formal agreement with Bohemians to enter a process towards creating a partnership that will allow St Kevin’s to join the existing pathway in the national leagues”. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Several of the country’s leading schoolboy clubs were meeting on Monday night to decide whether to take legal action aimed at preventing St Kevin’s Boys being admitted to the new national Under-15s league after the FAI announced that they will be allowed to participate in its first season pending the outcome of negotiations on a partnership agreement with Bohemians.
Though no great surprise, the announcement by the association caused anger among clubs who have already formed partnerships with League of Ireland sides after having been told that was the only way that they would get access to the national underage leagues which are a cornerstone of the FAI’s new development structures.
The North Dublin Schoolboy League (NDSL), which has an agreement with Bohemians, issued a statement expressing its anger that the arrangement seems to have been ignored as the association took the decision to encourage an arrangement between the Dalymount club and St Kevin’s which is probably the leading club in the country at present when it comes to sending teenage kids to professional clubs in Britain.
That position might have been threatened had it failed to gain access to the national leagues which, it is expected, will be a major draw for talented young players although their formation has been complicated in many instances by the issue of how money received when a player heads away to pursue a career is divided up.
The immediate issue for the association at present, though, is the threat of legal action from the likes of Cherry Orchard, Belvedere Boys, Malahide United, Crumlin United and Home Farm, who believe the rules obliging them to do deals have now been relaxed for a rival.
“I cannot comment on speculation,” said Ruud Dokter, the FAI’s high performance director as the line-up for the Under-15 league, which consists primarily of League of Ireland clubs plus a couple of regional sides, was announced.
“I can only say that I am very happy about these partnerships. Look where we were seven or eight years ago, there was no clear pathway for elite players, there was no structure for national competition, players had to go to Dublin to be challenged . . . look where we are now.”
Dokter said that St Kevin’s “have signed a formal agreement with Bohemians to enter a process towards creating a partnership that will allow St Kevin’s to join the existing pathway in the national leagues”.
Talks between the FAI and Bray Wanderers took place on Monday afternoon and are expected to resume Tuesday. The association is believed to have argued that it received assurances before the season started from the club’s main financial backer, Gerry Mulvey, that the wages would be paid for the entire campaign and that these should be honoured.
The club, meanwhile, disputes that the players were told that they could leave for free and insists that they in fact informed that it was open to any offers. This is denied by the players, some of whom have already received approaches from other managers but none have left and chairman Denis O’Connor insisted that the entire squad is expected to train this week.
Sligo Rovers have confirmed the sale of Kieran Sadlier to Cork City. The league leaders are believed to have agreed a fee of about €30,000 plus €10,000 in add-ons for the 22-year-old. Dundalk were also believed to have been interested in the attacking midfielder. St Patrick’s Athletic, meanwhile, will unveil new signings Owen Garvan and Killian Brennan on Tuesday.