Tralee Dynamos and Cobh Ramblers surprised by exclusion from first division

 

QUITE A few clubs have been trying to get out of it for years now but the decision of the Airtricity League’s executive committee to press ahead with an eight-team first division for the coming season has officials at Tralee Dynamos and Cobh Ramblers surprised and disappointed by their exclusion.

The league made its decision last week and issued a fixture list for the coming season yesterday which, say the club officials, was the first real indication they would not be playing first division football this season.

The two clubs continue to work on their licence applications with the deadline for that process still a week and a half away but in a press release issued along with the fixtures, the league has indicated they will only be considered for membership this year in the event another club fails to secure a licence. The clubs claim nobody had informed them of this.

“We’re bitterly disappointed,” said Ernest O’Keeffe, Rambers’ club secretary. “I’m disappointed the FAI decided to produce the fixture list before the licensing was issued and not fully consider, I don’t think, the applications made by both Cobh Ramblers and Tralee Dynamos. It’s a pity really. Perhaps the FAI need to look at the licensing end of it and bring forward the licensing date prior to the fixtures.

“We didn’t expect the fixture list (today). It seemed to us a little bit odd that the FAI would decide to produce a fixture list at this point. We’ve had no contact whatsoever from the FAI either in the form of a telephone call, a text message or an e-mail . . . nothing; which I’m very aggrieved about. I would have thought . . . they would have had the decency to make contact with us and let us know what was happening.

“We were reasonably confident that we’d get a first division licence and then, hopefully, be accepted into the league as well. Unfortunately, there won’t be senior football at the club, it looks like, for the next 12 months anyway. The Munster Senior League is up and running and the next season there won’t begin again until next August or September. The under-19 league finishes in early April so from then on it doesn’t look as if there’s going to be any football which is a terrible shame. All we can do now is start again towards an application for 2013.”

Tralee manager Noel White said: “From the outset we were led to believe the 5th of February was the club license date and that has always been our target. We’re still in a process. We’ve entered a process faithfully and we have to engage in it.”

The club expected the fixture list to be issued on the February 12th and he admitted to being “surprised” at its publication yesterday.

League director Fran Gavin insists, however, no commitments were made to the clubs. “No,” he says, “the league’s executive committee simply decided last week that eight teams was the most appropriate number at this moment in time. If, within that, a vacancy arises and the clubs (Tralee and Cobh) have a licence then they’ll certainly be considered but it was made clear to the four clubs that were invited to apply (Fanad United and Carlow) that getting a licence would not in any way guarantee them a place in the league.”

He claimed, meanwhile, the recent meeting at which he had informed members of the Galway United Supporters’ Trust that their application for a licence had arrived too late to be considered had been “one of the lowest points in football that I have had. On a person level,” he said, “it was very difficult. I played for the club, it was a long time in the league and they were all clearly very passionate people. All of the stakeholders (GUST members as well as representatives of Mervue United and Salthill Devon) said they wanted to advance the cause of senior football in the city. It was a question, though, of how you accommodated their different visions for the future.”

The problems, GUST members would contend, stem from the decision to allow a further two teams from the area to enter the league and if real progress is to be made over the medium to long term consolidation back to the point when one League of Ireland side represented the city seems desirable.

“Everybody’s given a commitment to look at the situation again over the coming year,” said Gavin. “If people are really concerned about the future of football in Galway they’re going to have to find ways of overcoming the obstacles they face now together.”

In the meantime Salthill have moved for the space created by United’s departure from the scene by changing their senior team’s name to SD Galway and striking a deal to play their home games at Terryland Park.

Gavin also confirmed the league expects word from Uefa in the coming weeks on whether it has been successful in obtaining an exemption for Derry City from the rule that only clubs whose parent company has been trading for three years can enter European competition. If Uefa say no then Bohemians will take the club’s place in the Europa League.