League of Ireland clubs could be facing a hefty additional cost if the bid by the Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) to pursue holiday pay entitlements for their members comes to fruition.
Citing a recent test case whereby the Labour Court upheld a complaint by a staff member against a club, general secretary Stephen McGuinness contends players should receive between two and four weeks’ extra in salary.
Wage levels in the domestic league have been pitifully low over the past decade, with income for a tranche of players in the First Division comprised of nominal expenses, but employment law entitles them to 8% of a holiday accrual.
McGuinness, speaking yesterday when launching the union’s yearly training camp for unemployed players, insists the payment is essential to offset the absence of income during the off-season.
Now that relations between their body and the FAI have been repaired since the departure of ex-CEO John Delaney, the players’ chief plans to include the item in negotiations for a centralised players contract.
“None of the clubs are giving holiday pay,” he said. “The 42-week contracts that most clubs operate finish when the season ends at the end of October.
“Players should be getting their holiday pay through this month to get them through until the transfer window opens on December 1.”
McGuinness and his colleagues are due to commence collective bargaining discussions with the FAI’s National League Executive Committee (NLEC) after Christmas.
The NLEC was traditionally dominated by FAI-selected representatives but changes in composition were triggered by reforms proposed by the governance review group.
“I’ve already dealt with the NLEC chairman Noel Byrne on this but it will take 12 months to conclude the deal,” added McGuinness.
“In a league that is supposedly professional, we don’t even have a minimum wage or minimum number of professionals at each club.
“There are only two clubs in the league, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, where players are professional in the truest sense.”
This season’s PFAI squad will be managed by recently-retired Bohemians defender Derek Pender. Last night was his second training session with the group ahead of a visit to England on December 11 to play against Rochdale.
Christy Fagan is the main name on the list of players seeking a fresh challenge. The striker’s firepower helped St Patrick’s Athletic win the title and FAI Cup, only for a freak knee injury to rule him out for 18 months.
Another former Saint, Conan Byrne, is on the lookout for a club too, as are Bohemians pair Michael Barker and Paddy Kirk.
The friendly against Rochdale was facilitated by Brian Barry-Murphy, the Rochdale boss who previously played at Cork City alongside PFAI organiser Ollie Cahill.
Meanwhile, City could be getting a new goalkeeper, with Brendan Clarke an option for Neale Fenn. Experienced stopper Clarke in under contract at St Pat’s but isn’t part of new manager Stephen O’Donnell plans.
The 34-year-old’s move, should it materialise, will likely be initially on loan.