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Dublin: 6°C Friday 23 April 2021

Derry City unconvinced by finances of FAI's restart plan

The club say their decision to retain players and staff on full pay has not been properly recognised.

Derry City scarfs hang at the Brandywell.
Derry City scarfs hang at the Brandywell.
Image: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

THIS IS A pivotal week in efforts to restart the League of Ireland season, as the FAI continue to put together a financial package to convince clubs to return to play. 

Derry City, however, have today expressed their scepticism at the financial package on offer, saying it doesn’t fully recognise their decision to retain players and staff on full pay during the Covid-19 shutdown. 

With games set to be held at neutral venues behind closed doors, clubs are facing a major shortfall with a loss of gate receipts, and so the FAI have spent a number of weeks trying to find enough money to offset this shortfall, along with the expenses of Covid-19 testing. 

Clubs were underwhelmed with the proposal laid out at a meeting last Thursday, with the FAI still reliant on a cash injection from the government and/or Fifa to add to the pot. Outgoing sports minister Shane Ross said last week he would be “amazed” if the League of Ireland was not given financial assistance by the government, while Fifa are set to finalise a relief package to all member associations later this month. 

With those potential solutions engulfed in doubt for now, the FAI last week proposed a couple of alternative answers to the four sides preparing for European competitions, including Derry City. It was suggested that those sides share some of their European income among the rest of the clubs to facilitate a restart, although the Irish Independent report that has been rejected by the clubs. The mini-tournament involving these sides – intended as a pilot for the return to play – also looks set to be scrapped. 

In a statement today, Derry say their proposed slice of the pie isn’t large enough, and hope that will be remedied as negotiations over the coming days. 

“Because the Irish Government has truncated the number and timings of the easing of Covid 19 lockdown, there is a likelihood that the League will restart in mid-August”, read the statement. 

“This would mean that the proposed four-team tournament between those teams participating in European competitions would not proceed. The FAI has recognised the need to provide financial support to the Premier and First Division teams.

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“This support is to compensate clubs for having to play games at designated stadiums and behind closed doors. The Derry City Board are not yet convinced that the proposed distribution is equitable.

“Derry City is one of only three clubs who have kept their staff and players on full salary. That effort and commitment has not been properly recognised in the proposed distribution of financial compensation.

“Negotiations will continue this coming week and the Derry Board will continue to be constructive and supportive in the difficult circumstances that have arisen because of the pandemic.

“Hopefully, those efforts will be properly recognised in the continuing negotiations.”

The FAI are due to meet with the PFAI and player representatives later today, with another meeting with clubs postponed from today to Wednesday.  

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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