Sporting Fingal on verge of collapse as contracts cancelled

SPORTING FINGAL are on the brink of collapse after the club cancelled all of its players’ contracts yesterday afternoon.

The FAI promptly confirmed that the club has pulled out of the Setanta Sports Cup with UCD being parachuted in to meet Lisburn Distillery in the opening game on Monday.

Abbotstown will continue talks with Sporting Fingal today when a decision may be made on whether they can continue as an Airtricity League club.

Club licences for the coming 2011 season, which starts on March 4, will be issued after the Independent Licensing Committee meets on Sunday.

The club, who won the FAI Ford Cup in 2009 and played in the Europa League last season, was launched just three years ago tomorrow.

In a statement last night the club said: “Sporting Fingal FC is disappointed to be unable to participate in the 2011 Setanta Sports Cup competition.

“Due to ongoing negotiations with regard to FAI licensing matters, it is Sporting Fingal’s intention to make a statement in relation to the

club’s position during the coming days.”

Speculation had been rife in recent weeks concerning the club’s financial viability following the ending of benefactor Gerry Gannon’s backing at the end of last season.

On a day of intense talks yesterday, the club’s 13 players, including new signing Greg Bolger and Colin Hawkins and Gary O’Neill, who had re-signed from last season, had their contracts cancelled.

“We’ve been monitoring the situation at Sporting Fingal for the last while, since they lost their major backer, Gerry Gannon,” said Airtricity League director, Fran Gavin, last night.

“I know the club have been looking very hard to replace him. I know John O’Brien (secretary) and Liam Buckley (manager) have been out there looking for new investors.

“That was all in situ up until last week when they unfortunately had bad news about a major sponsor and a benefactor. So that’s the position now.

“Unfortunately, the club has been replaced in the Setanta Cup by UCD. We’ll be talking to the club (today) regarding their future in the Airtricity League.

“Since they’ve come in, the project itself has been backed by the council and it’s been very successful, particularly with the local communities in the different areas.

“I know Liam Buckley is working particularly hard. The club has been very honourable to the players over the last couple of years. They have been very good employers.

“A major investor has unfortunately had to leave the club. It could happen anywhere and they’re just a victim, I suppose, of the economic situation in the country in most industries.

“The Independent Licensing Committee sit on Sunday to issue licences for the 2011 season. That’s the timeframe, so there is only a few days left for the club to really save itself,” added Gavin.

“We’ll then look at who has received Premier Division licences and First Division licences on Sunday, and next week then we can decide, if Fingal do go, who would replace them.”

The players union, the PFAI, said it was “massively disappointed” that contracts, some of which have been signed very recently, would not be honoured.

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