Monaghan forced to exit league

As 30,000 fans cheered on the Republic of Ireland in Poznan last night, yet another Airtricity League club was forced to withdraw from the domestic top flight due to a lack of support.

Monaghan United confirmed their intention to quit the league with immediate effect, stating “mainly but not only” financial problems was behind their decision. The club had struggled to find a title sponsor since rejoining the Premier Division after sealing promotion in a play-off against the now defunct Galway United last season, and with lower than expected attendances at Gortakeegan, couldn’t make ends meet.

Chairman Jim McGlone said the club were left with little choice but to make such a difficult decision.

He explained: “In terms of trying to keep going, it would have stalled wages for players and would have built up debts that we could not honour. That’s just not our style, so we felt the responsible thing to do was face it now rather than in six to eight weeks time.

“Obviously the lack of a sponsor was the big blow. When we came into the Premier Division we were positive that sponsors would be found but it didn’t happen. We were seeking sponsors for the ground and the shirt but we couldn’t find them.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland claimed the club’s players were not informed of the decision before Monaghan United officials announced issued a statement to the media yesterday morning.

“No player we have spoken to was contacted by the club prior to the statement being released and many players first heard that they had lost their jobs through Twitter,” a PFAI spokesperson said.

“We find it extraordinary that no attempt was made to reach a solution with the players either directly with them or through this association. Situations like this have arisen in the past and agreements have been reached in order to keep a team in the league.”

The PFAI refused to comment further when contacted but their claims were seconded when midfielder Stephen Maher took to Twitter.

He tweeted: “Nice to find you’ve no club over twitter” and also published critical messages about a club official before later deleting them.

McGlone, however, was insistent that the timing of the decision to withdraw was made with the players in mind as the transfer window opens on July 1. They will not have to wait until the beginning of next month however, after it was confirmed the PFAI had applied for derogation so players could sign with other clubs immediately.

“Another reason for the timing of this was that the window opens in a week or so and gives the players an opportunity to find new clubs,” McGlone added. “If we kept going until the end of July, that window would have been closed so that opportunity would have went for them. In fairness, we made the decision so the players can go out and find new clubs. I feel that most of them shouldn’t have a problem finding somewhere to play.”

Manager Roddy Collins was informed of the decision over the weekend while on holiday in the Canaries and McGlone was eager to stress that there was no conflict between him and the team boss.

“Roddy is actually in the Canaries at the moment. I was in touch with him on Sunday and this (Monday) morning to inform him of the decision.

“I want to stress that Roddy has been very good to the club. I know because of Roddy’s past history some might say he was the problem but that has nothing to do with the situation. To make it clear, I’ve got on very well with Roddy and it’s just unfortunate it has come to this.”

Meanwhile, after a board meeting in Poland following the announcement, the FAI declared that all results involving the club will be expunged, in line with the precedent set by Dublin City’s disbandment in 2006 and accordance with rule 18.1 of the league’s participation agreement.

Three teams — St Patrick’s Athletic, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk – had faced Mons twice, so now have a game in hand on the rest of league. Pats and the Hoops, though, have had four points deducted, while Dundalk lose just one.

Others to lose out include Cork City, who scored six against at home to United and drop down a place in the table, with Bohemians moving up because Mons had defeated the Gypsies at Dalymount Park.

Sligo, Drogheda, Shelbourne, Derry, UCD and Bray also woke up this morning with three points less on the board.

In addition to the league changes, one team will receive a bye in the third round of the FAI Cup due to Monaghan’s removal from the competition.

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