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Bray Wanderers players take strike action over unpaid wages

“It is now seven weeks since we have been paid, with no prospect of payment of these arrears.”

Gerald Pender celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal Bray Wanderers defied their off-the-field problems by defeating Sligo Rovers last Sunday. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

DRASTIC ACTION IS now required.

That is the message as the players at Bray Wanderers have voted in favour of strike action as a result of the non-payment of wages by the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division club.

At a meeting with officials from the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI) — the players’ representative body — members of the Seagulls’ squad opted in favour of withdrawing their services by an overwhelming majority.

The players are still waiting on the most recent payment they’re owed, which was due on 29 June. They subsequently haven’t received any money in seven weeks, having last been paid on 25 May.

“On a night when players fight for credibility for our league on a European stage, players at Bray fight to be paid,” the PFAI tweeted. “They have gone without wages since 25 May. Not good enough. Time for change.”

In a statement released by the PFAI this afternoon on behalf of the players, they confirmed their intention to strike, which will be communicated to the club on Tuesday.

As well as revealing that players have recently been forced to pay for their own medical treatment, the statement was critical of the FAI, Irish football’s governing body, and its licensing department after similar problems arose last season.

The statement reads:

It is with great regret that we release this statement. We had sincerely hoped that we could resolve the unsatisfactory payment situation at the club, but despite weeks of negotiations by the PFA Ireland on our behalf, these efforts have proven fruitless. It is now seven weeks (25 May, 2018), since we have been paid with no prospect of payment of these arrears or realistic proposals for future wages in sight. We are all players who rely on our weekly wage to pay our bills, mortgages and every-day living expenses. During the above timeframe, players who required operations due to injuries were forced to pay for their own operations, as the club was unable to pay for same. Issues around rehab and physiotherapy for players have also been an issue. This is, of course, the second season that contract issues have arisen and it is hugely disappointing that the club have allowed this situation to arise. We have now lost all trust in the club to respect our contracts. We had hoped, in vain, that the FAI would attempt to resolve the problems but in spite of the obvious signposts erected during last season’s uncertainty, the FAI and their licensing department have failed to address a very obvious red flag and do not appear to have any plan to resolve this crisis. With no prospect of this appalling situation being resolved, we have balloted to strike and by overwhelming majority, we will be providing seven-day notice to the club on Tuesday. Coming to this decision last night was one of the hardest of our professional careers and reached with the heaviest of hearts. This is very much a last-resort action but we feel we have been left with no choice. To the Bray Wanderers supporters, our fellow League of Ireland players and clubs, and to the wider League of Ireland community, we sincerely hope that you understand that we have been left with no other option than to take this action.

After the club confirmed last week that they are no longer in a position to guarantee wages, the players were told that they’re free to leave. Several have already done so.

Aaron Greene joined Shamrock Rovers, Ronan Coughlan signed for Cork City, Daniel Kelly is now at Bohemians, while Longford Town have taken Craig Walsh. Cory Galvin has also departed.

Bray Wanderers Football Club are entitled to seven days’ notice of industrial action, which will put the 27 July fixture against champions Cork City at the Carlisle Grounds under threat. Bray’s next outing is away to Bohemians on Friday, 20 July.

Despite not training for the past two weeks due to the current situation, Bray — who are currently bottom of the Premier Division — defied their off-the-field issues last Sunday by recording a 2-1 win over Sligo Rovers.

“The PFA Ireland has quietly attempted to resolve this situation for several weeks now and has exhausted all avenues with the club and FAI, which is why both the union and I have been quiet on this,” PFAI solicitor Stuart Gilhooly wrote on Twitter.

“The situation is untenable so unfortunately drastic action is now required.”

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Paul Dollery

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