NEW Cork City boss Roddy Collins says he is planning for Premier Division and European football next season, despite the massive uncertainty surrounding the future of the club.
However, his former club Floriana reacted angrily last night, stating that they would be seeking compensation for the Dubliner leaving the Malta outfit.
Collins was yesterday confirmed as the successor to Paul Doolin and last night told the Irish Examiner of his delight at getting the job he says he has wanted for many years.
“I’ve signed the papers, it’s all sorted now and I’m delighted,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to get back into a big club and back into European football. (Chairman) Tom Coughlan has been pulled from pillar to post and I’m glad to be able to help him out too. With the right mentality, this club can forget all the nonsense that has gone on and get back to playing football.”
Although Collins currently doesn’t hold the UEFA Pro Licence required to coach in European competition, he says he has checked the options available to him and is confident that he can be fast-tracked through a process to get the qualifications he needs in time to lead City in the Europa League.
“I’ll be qualified, there’s no problem about that,” he said. “The fact that the club has qualified for Europe is a huge bonus, as playing in European competition is where everyone wants to be. It is a testament to the previous manager, the players and the chairman that the club secured a place in Europe.”
Of course, whether the embattled Leesiders will even be cleared to compete in the Premier Division, never mind Europe, is a moot point but, pending the decision of the FAI’s Club Licensing Committee, Collins said that he can only operate for now on the basis that City will retain their top-flight status next season.
“I’m planning for the Premier Division,” he says.
“Tom is confident that everything will be sorted out. It would be a shame if they weren’t in it.”
However, he does expect to see further changes in personnel on the pitch.
“There are seven players under contract and three of them want to leave but that won’t be a problem,” he said. “I have a good network of contacts in England and Europe and I’ll recruit the players I need. A real football person couldn’t turn down Cork City. If it’s only money you’re after, then go find another club. But if it’s a passionate football club you want, then Cork City is the place to be.
“Of course, people have to get paid but, especially in the current economic climate, they have to get real as well.
“I achieved the double with Bohemians on a small budget so taking the Cork job holds no fears for me.”
Of the current playing staff at Turner’s Cross, Collins has so far only had contact with full-back Danny Murphy.
“I won’t speak for Danny or his plans but I have talked to him on the phone and he’s someone I’ve great admiration and respect for,” said Collins. “In fact, before I knew I was coming here, I’d actually recommended him to a club in England. But he’s definitely the kind of player I’d want. I haven’t spoken to any of the other players yet. I want to let them absorb the news that I’m the new manager first. That way, they can make their inquiries, as footballers always do, about what sort of person I am and they’ll have some idea of where I’m coming from before I sit down to speak to them after Christmas. I really want to rally the troops for the season ahead.”
Announcing the appointment of Collins – a colourful and often controversial character, whose managerial CV includes spells at Bangor, Bohs, Carlisle United, Dublin City, Shamrock Rovers and, most recently, Maltese side Floriana – Cork City’s general manager Liam Meaney said: “Having interviewed a number of high quality candidates who expressed their interest in the position, we feel that Mr Collins is best suited for the club’s needs in the forthcoming 12 months. We are delighted that he is a free agent; he has extensive experience and a proven record of success when operating on a restricted budget and his appointment represents a significant financial saving for the club.”
In a statement, Floriana claimed that they were surprised at the development and that it was an “error” to suggest Collins was a free agent.
“At no time have Floriana FC given Mr Collins permission to speak with any other club and furthermore have not released him from his contract.
“Until (Tuesday) evening Mr Collins was asking for us to release him from his contract however he fully understood that to do so meant some form of compensation had to be made from Cork City FC. We will be contacting Cork City FC owner Mr Tom Coughlan to come to an arrangement where we will receive compensation to not bring this matter further than an amicable settlement.”
Meanwhile, it was also reported yesterday that all players have been paid.
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