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FAI boss insists Bray turmoil was 'unforeseeable', defends current licensing system

The association’s director of competitions Fran Gavin says they will meet with the club next week to receive assurances on its financial stability.

The Bray team that played Cork City last week.
The Bray team that played Cork City last week.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

FRAN GAVIN HAS labelled Bray Wanderers’ financial problems “unforeseeable” and defended the structures in place that award licenses to SSE Airtricity League clubs.

The Seagulls were flying high in the Premier Division when the club was thrown into turmoil three weeks ago.

At half-time in their league fixture against champions Dundalk, then-chairman Denis O’Connor released an ominous statement revealing the current owners wouldn’t be able to continue the same level of investment — citing poor attendances at the Carlisle Grounds as the main reason.

There has been huge uncertainty among Bray players, staff and supporters in the weeks that have followed and just last Wednesday, O’Connor stepped down from his position.

The first-team squad are looking for reassurances that their wages will be paid for the remainder of the season. If that doesn’t happen, the likelihood is many will leave for other clubs before the transfer window closes on 31 July.

However, speaking yesterday, FAI director of competitions Gavin was eager to stress his belief that a resolution can be found.

“There has been a lot of communication between ourselves and the club and it’s an absolute priority that the players’ contracts are secured and that has always been a priority,” he said after the FAI Cup first round draw.

“By everybody working together that can be done. That’s where we are and we’ll continue the discussions next week and look to resolve everything for the long-term.

“The players have been paid this month and the club have said they will secure future funding. We need to receive assurances on that, club licensing are around that and if everybody works together there can definitely be a positive resolution.”

He added: “Denis has delivered on all the stuff he said. The manager’s comments were very interesting, as he actually confirmed that Denis has never let him down. Denis has now taken the decision to retire.”

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Fran Gavin Gavin spoke to the media on Friday. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The FAI’s Independent Club Licensing Committee, which awards League of Ireland clubs with licenses on an annual basis, has received criticism for failing to see this coming despite Bray’s heavy spending in recent times.

But Gavin batted away such claims.

I think licensing is one of the best things that has happened in the league over the last few years in that it’s starting to get stability among clubs,” he added.

“We do work with the clubs in pre-season, we do work around their budgets, we look for assurances and we got assurances. The club got the assurances at that time.

“But sometimes, unforeseeable things do happen in any industry. We need to make sure there is a responsibility on everybody to resolve it and that’s what we want to do. It’s a very delicate situation at the moment and we just want to make sure there’s stability with the club and the players.”

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Ben Blake

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