Cork City have confirmed that all players and a number of staff won’t be paid wages beyond next week.
Cutbacks at Turners Cross has been expected following yesterday’s confirmation from the FAI that the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped fixtures until June 19 at the earliest.
City, a supporters-run club led by FORAS, indicated last night their intention to discuss the crisis an emergency meeting of their board.
They cite the cessation of match-day income and the culling of nine matches from the campaaign as drivers of the move. They have pleaded with fans to back fundraising initiatives and purchase merchandising.
The Rebels become the second Premier Division club to lay off personnel following the move by Sligo Rovers on Wednesday. First Division clubs have discontinued paying their players, while the Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) have called for compromise in these desperate times.
“The club has informed all players and a number of our staff and coaches that they will be paid in full, as normal, next week, however, the club will not be in a position to continue paying their wages beyond that point,” said City in a statement today.
They laid out the background to the grim news conveyed to players and staff alike: “These are difficult and uncertain times for everyone and our thoughts are, first and foremost, for the well-being of our players, staff, supporters, sponsors and the wider community.
"Since the cessation of football was announced, the club has been in active discussions, both internally and externally, regarding the effect the shut-down would have on the club. There have been ongoing talks between the National League Executive Committee, the FAI and the PFAI, along with regular communication between all Premier Division clubs via the Premier Clubs Alliance. It is our fervent hope that all of these parties will continue these communications and will arrive at a solution regarding support and/or funding for clubs during this crisis.
"However, as it was announced yesterday by the FAI that the league shut-down will last for a significant period until June 19, and that the number of games will be reduced, we also have to act in order to secure the long-term future of the club.
"The club has been working on a number of initiatives to generate revenue and, while we are immensely grateful for the support we have received thus far, this comes nowhere near replacing the revenue that would have been generated by playing matches.
“We will work with our staff with regard to the recently announced government funding for workers affected by this unprecedented crisis and do everything we can to help and support them.
“We believe that this action, while regrettable, is the most prudent approach we can take to ensure that the club will be in a position to offer employment once the football resumes.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support and assure them that we are doing everything within our power to manage this situation in the best interests of our club and its employees."
Chairman Declan Carey added: “These are extremely difficult and unprecedented times. The board has daily discussions on the latest financial position of the club and this decision was not an easy one.
“We are responsible to our shareholders to make these difficult decisions in the best interests of the overall future of the club.
“We hope things can return to some level of normality soon, however, we urge all our supporters to continue to help the club through this next period of uncertainty through buying merchandise, and supporting our online fundraising initiatives.”
So far, all the state can provide is €203 per week to employers, though there are positive noises emerging about that aid being enhanced.
Whether City can top up the remainder of salaries to players remains to be seen, especially as manager Neale Fenn was already operating on a vastly reduced budget and the team had claimed just one win from their opening five league matches.