Shamrock Rovers chairman Jonathan Roche says that he has been surprised by the level of opposition to a Hoops ‘B’ team participating in the First Division this season.
But he insists the club haven’t “bent the rules” in their application and, pending receipt of a licence, he says it’s full steam ahead for the team’s manager Aidan Price and his players.
Responding to the threat that some clubs could boycott games against the team officially known as Shamrock Rovers II, Roche said: “That’s for them but we’ll be turning up as per the fixtures if, hopefully, we get our licence like every other club.
“We have a panel and a manager of the team, we have a structure in place and we’re raring to go.
“I’m a bit surprised by the noise in the last few weeks, seeing that all the clubs have done so much over the last number of years in regards to academies.
"There is no next step, through no fault of the clubs, in regards to players when they’re 18/19.
"We applied last October, before anything happened with Limerick, purely on the basis of developing players and putting our players first. We haven’t bent the rules or anything like that.”
Roche said that it would cost the club in the region of €100,000 to run a B team this season.
“I don’t think it gives Shamrock Rovers a competitive advantage,” he said.
It definitely doesn’t give us a financial advantage, it’s actually a disadvantage.
Rovers B cannot be promoted but the concern has been expressed by other clubs that, with the Hoops allowed to field a maximum of three outfield players and a goalkeeper from their first-team squad, the strength of the side they put out could vary considerably across the season.
But Roche dismisses that argument.
“We can still win the league and we’ll want to,” he said, “but do they seriously think that we’re going to play first-team international or ex-international players just to beat X team? That’s not a serious argument.
“I think the new FAI, if that’s what we’re calling it, focuses on player development and this fits right in with developing players.
“It’s not a mad thing. It’s in other European countries. It fits well into it.
“If you ask people involved in football, there are no issues. Obviously it needs to be worked out because you don’t want anyone boycotting games.
But I’m not going to tell someone what they should think. We are just planning for the season for all our players, from Jack Byrne down to our U10s.
In other news from Tallaght, first team manager Stephen Bradley, who is preparing his players for the President’s Cup curtain-raiser against Dundalk on Sunday, has revealed that, following surgery on his knee, Sean Kavanagh is expected to miss the opening two or three months of the new season.
Rovers yesterday announced that the sports fashion retailer JD is their new main sponsor.
The deal marks the company’s first foray into football and sports sponsorship in the Republic of Ireland, following on from its partnerships with Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Brighton, Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and Northern Ireland’s Irish Football Association (IFA).
Meanwhile, Dundalk have confirmed the loan signing of 24-year-old attacker Cammy Smith from Dundee United.
The former Aberdeen and St Mirren player was capped through to U21 level for Scotland, with former manager Craig Brown once describing him as the “Bergkamp of Aberdeen”.