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Limerick FC formally settle legal dispute with the FAI

The club’s chairman Pat O’Sullivan says he is ‘pleased’ with the outcome after an ‘extremely difficult period’.

Limerick FC chairman Pat O'Sullivan (file photo).
Limerick FC chairman Pat O'Sullivan (file photo).
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

LIMERICK FC’s HIGH Court action against the Football Association of Ireland over what the soccer club claims would have been its exclusion from participating in the League of Ireland has been settled.

The case was formally struck out by Mr Justice Leoine Reynolds on Monday after the judge was informed by Fank Callinan SC, appearing with Jack Nicholas Bl, for Limerick that the parties had resolved their dispute, and the proceedings could be struck out.

The settlement came after the FAI issued a statement last Friday that Limerick FC can apply for a licence to compete in the SSE Airtricity League First Division and the underage leagues for the 2020 season.

The club brought proceedings against the FAI over the association’s alleged failure to invite Limerick to submit an application for a licence to allow it to play in the League of Ireland First Division during the 2020 season.

Limerick, which late last year was the subject of a failed examinership process claimed the FAI is bound under its own rules to invite the club to submit an application.

Limerick claimed the FAI, represented in court by Andrew Fitzpatrick SC and Michael Binchy Bl, refused to do so, which had the effect of excluding it from playing this season’s First Division.

In addition, it claims that the FAI has allowed Shamrock Rovers B team to enter a team in the First Division, which the other clubs in the division are all opposed to.

It claimed the decision to allow Shamrock Rovers B take part was wrongful because it was taken by the FAI’s board and National League Executive Committee and not by the FAI Club Licensing Bodies.

The court heard that the FAI in correspondence with the club never said that it was unwilling to allow LimerickFC to apply for a licence.

As a result, Munster Football Club Limited, trading as Limerick Football Club and represented in Court by Frank Callanan SC and Jack Nichols Bl, sought various orders against the FAI.

The orders included an injunction requiring the FAI to take all necessary steps to permit Limerick FC to submit an application for a licence allowing it to play in the 2020 League of Ireland First Division.

The case was adjourned to allow talks between the parties aimed at resolving the dispute. Those discussions came to a successful conclusion last Friday.

On Monday Ms Justice Reynolds welcomed news of the settlement, which the court heard is confidential.

Mr Fitzpatrick for the FAI told the court that his side was consenting to the settlement.

Outside of court on Monday Limerick FC Chairman Mr Pat O’Sullivan said:

I am pleased to have won our case in the High Court, allowing us now to apply for our First Division Licence. The last few weeks and months have been extremely difficult for me and I am glad to be back in a position to concentrate on Limerick FC away from the Courts.”

After thanking his legal team he added that he had “many concerns regarding how our club has been treated since mid-2018. I do feel there has been a coordinated effort to destabilise our club, for reasons unknown to me. I am taking advice as to what options are available to the club.”

Finally, with regards to the Limerick FC academy, a new group has been created calling themselves Limerick United.

He said that Limerick FC made an offer of cooperation to them and notwithstanding same they still have not heard from them.

“I sincerely hope for a positive response to our offer of cooperation. There is a significant investment available around a senior soccer team in Limerick with an underage structure.”

“To me there is no sense in any other long-term sustainable football project in Limerick other than the two parties combining their resources for the benefit of players’ development especially, our sport and our communities.”

“If necessary, I am willing to take on an honorary role. It is difficult to see why Limerick United will not join with Limerick FC for the future of Limerick soccer. As previously discussed I am willing to allow the Limerick United coaching staff to remain in situ subject to FAI requirements,” Mr O’Sullivan concluded.

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About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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