The Fermanagh football dispute took another twist this afternoon with the issuing of a statement by 11 former members of the county's senior panel.
A number of players have quit the squad in recent weeks as they do not wish to play under current manager John O'Neill and are angered by the actions of the County Board.
The Ernesiders have struggled to make their mark on Division 4 of the Allianz Football League so far this season. The former squad members have deep concerns with the management set-up that was put in place last autumn.
In their statement, the players argue that the management team "falls short of the high standards of organisation and preparation which are required to compete at inter-county standard".
They also express their "deep disappointment" over the Fermanagh County Board's decision not to accept the recommendations made to them by the GAA and GPA.
A meeting between the player group and GAA, GPA and Fermanagh GAA officials took place last Thursday in accordance with the Disputes Resolution Protocols agreed in the recently announced GAA/GPA Recognition Agreement.
But the Fermanagh Board yesterday insisted they "did not consider that the GAA and GPA's suggestions represented an appropriate way forward for Fermanagh".
In a joint statement released yesterday, the GAA and GPA said that the bodies "put forward a proposal which they believed represented a reasonable way forward and which would bring the matter to a conclusion".
"This included an independent end of season consultative review of protocols relevant to Fermanagh's inter-county teams," the statement added.
Today's statement from the players is signed by Niall Bogue, James Connolly, Ciaran Flaherty, Mark Little, Sam Lynch, Shane Lyons, Tommy McElroy, John Mullarkey, Seamus Quigley, James Sherry and Peter Sherry.
The full statement is as follows:
"We, the undersigned would like to express our deep disappointment that the Fermanagh County Board has chosen to reject the recommendations made under the GPA/GAA Disputes Resolution Protocols.
"It is our continued contention that the current management team falls far short of the high standards of organisation and preparation which are required to compete at inter-county standard.
"Rather than this season being a launch pad for a rebuilding process, we believe there has been a decline in standards. As a result the undersigned 11 panel members, (not 'only four' as stated by the County Board) have withdrawn to date due to concerns regarding team management.
"We have also received the support of a significant number of players from last year's squad who share our views on the current situation.
"We would like to make it clear that we bear no animosity whatsoever to the players who remain on the panel and have at no point attempted to coerce or influence any panellist into making a decision.
"However, we believe the County Board have attempted to drive a wedge between the current squad and the players involved in the dispute. Furthermore, we reject the County Board's assertion that the current squad is 'in transition'.
"We believe the alarmingly high level of player turnover within the county is a symptom of deep problems which the board are currently unwilling to address.
"We wish to put on record that we remain passionately committed to Fermanagh football and have not taken this course of action lightly. We hope our past service to our county will be seen as evidence of this commitment.
"As the County Board has chosen to reject the recommendations made under the GPA/GAA Disputes Protocol, we now call on the clubs in Fermanagh to ensure that a comprehensive review is carried out transparently at the end of the season and to ensure that their views are heard clearly on this matter. We believe this is essential for the future health of Fermanagh football.
"While we will not be returning to the squad under the current management, we would like to wish the squad every success for the remainder of the season. We would also like to thank the GAA and the GPA for their efforts to resolve this dispute."
2011 Withdrawn Panel Members:
1. Bogue, Niall
2. Connolly, James
3. Flaherty, Ciaran
4. Little, Mark
5. Lynch, Liam
6. Lyons, Shane
7. McElroy, Tommy
8. Mullarkey, John
9. Quigley, Seamus
10. Sherry, James
11. Sherry, Peter