Sligo Rovers face two and a half months between home league games
Club release statement after postponement of league game against Dundalk
Sligo Rovers face a two and a half month gap between home league games at the Showgrounds. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
Sligo Rovers supporters are set to go two and a half months without seeing their side in league action in a home game at the Showgrounds.
Sunday’s Premier Division clash with Dundalk is the latest home game to be postponed after the Lilywhites made it through to the second round of Europa League qualifying and a meeting with Cypriot side Larnaca.
Sligo were also due to play at home to Derry City on the August Bank Holiday but that date will be used as a refixture of the Derry v Sligo game from last February, when the Brandywell redevelopment was still to be completed.
Sligo will face Derry at home on the Bank Holiday Monday in a semi-final of the EA Sports Cup and play Longford Town in the third round of the FAI Cup on Saturday August 11th at the Showgrounds but the club believes the lack of a home home league fixture between June 30th and September 15th is far from ideal for the club’s supporters and also club finances.
“The lack of home league gates creates a challenge for the club,” read a statement from the management committee of the club. “As always we understand our supporters will be concerned, firstly knowing they cannot enjoy watching the team in league action for 11 weeks, and then the clear financial strain it puts on us without gate receipts for such a time.
“The Bit O’ Red committee were aware we would face a number of weeks without a home league game when the fixtures were announced. We also then agreed to switch our Derry City fixture to accommodate work on the new Brandywell.
“The gesture was made in good faith and received as such. It added to the timeframe but ultimately we played our two home games with Derry and believe it was the right thing to do when the request came, given the predicament they faced when their ground was not yet fit for purpose.
“It was our hope that no league games would be postponed in the July period because of European football.
“We have competed in Europe in the recent past and recognise the difficulties of playing Thursday-Sunday-Thursday.
“However, given the importance of the game to our club, for gate receipts, for bridging the gap of lack of home games, we refused numerous requests from Dundalk FC to postpone the game. The FAI were made aware we refused to postpone the game.
“Several games have been played in the middle of European fixtures in recent years, including involving ourselves.
“It is clear that a free weekend will give Dundalk FC an additional help in Europe and we understand the benefit. We respect it and wish them well next week.
“Dundalk played at home last night (Thursday) and will do next Thursday so they face no travel issues. It was our belief the game could be played. It must be said our circumstances too were acknowledged by Dundalk FC in discussions.
“Last Saturday, league officials opted that any team that progresses in Europe would have a free weekend regardless of circumstance. We were very disappointed by this decision.
“Sligo Rovers have conveyed our disappointment to the FAI and the long period between home league games which has been added to now.
“These concerns will be reiterated and that it is not just clubs in Europe that need to be given priority in order to be successful. Clubs in our position simply cannot function with such logic.
“We wish to say to our supporters who have told us their feelings on this Sunday’s game possibly being and now being postponed that we share those feelings and voice their opinion. The decision to postpone the game is the wrong one in our view.”