Former QPR midfielder Marc Bircham appointed Waterford manager

Ex-Canadian international surprise appointment to replace Kevin Sheedy at SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side
Former QPR midfielder Marc Bircham appointed Waterford manager

Marc Bircham has been appointed the new manager of Waterford. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Marc Bircham has been appointed the new manager of basement side Waterford, the fifth boss in charge at the RSC in less than a year.

The 43-year-old former Millwall and QPR player follows in the footsteps of former Ireland internationals John Sheridan and Kevin Sheedy, the latter sacked a week ago following a dismal start to the 61-year-old’s first-ever managerial reign at the age of 61 which racked up seven defeats from nine.

Sheridan lasted only eight games, yet his exit last September was voluntary. He quit to take the vacancy at Wigan Athletic, subsequently departing for another of Lee Power’s clubs, Swindon Town, from where he resigned last month.

Bircham’s coaching career has taken him back to Millwall and QPR, as well as a stint in the MLS as assistant boss at Chicago Fire.

The new boss has arrived in Ireland and addressed the squad this evening on a Zoom call. He must complete a period quarantine before starting training.

As Waterford have forfeited Saturday’s match in Sligo due to their first-team squad remaining in isolation, his first games are a home double-header against Derry City and Finn Harps on Friday week and the following Monday.

Meanwhile, Cabinteely have confirmed their refusal to take the FAI to arbitration over a Covid-19-related decision. The association’s disciplinary control unit applied a 3-0 defeat on the club when they were unable to field a side in the April 9 First Division fixture against Galway United.

Last October, Cabo missed out on a play-off when an arbitration hearing cleared Wexford of wrongdoing over a player registration issue. The FAI had awarded Cabinteely a victory, instead of a draw in the played match, once they considered the recruitment of Ola Adeyemo to have breached international clearance rules.

“Based on our previous experience an ‘independent’ FAI Arbitration is not the solution,” the Dublin club said in a lengthy statement explaining the chain of events leading up to the fixture.

“Cabinteely want to point out that in the week of the Galway game, all our players returned negative Covid test results.

“On Thursday April 8, we received the first contact from the HSE who made both written and verbal recommendations.

“In simple terms, Cabinteely FC was asked to identify possible close contacts from the week before.

“A meeting was held with the FAI who agreed to contact the HSE on our behalf once the players were identified.

“At 10am on Friday April 9, Cabinteely FC emailed the FAI with the required information and yet we are now aware that it was after 2pm before the FAI contacted the HSE.

“Satisfied that Cabinteely FC had done everything required the FAI gave Galway United players the ok to travel at 1.30pm.

“Cabinteely meanwhile continued with the preparation for the game and had a squad of players available to play. It was always our intention to fulfil the fixture and at no time did anyone believe that the game would not be on.

“However, at 4pm we were told by the FAI that the ‘HSE were still advising against further training or matches while awaiting results of screening tests for the team, scheduled for the April 12.

“The Cabinteely board then met and agreed that under no circumstances could we breach the recommendations of the HSE and leave the club or the FAI open to potential legal action.

“Within 80 minutes of being notified, the board confirmed our decision to the FAI.” 

Cabo were unsuccessful in appealing the verdict within the FAI disputes system and were unwilling to fork out €5,000 for the next level of appeal.

In broader terms, the club which entered the League in 2015 have called on their peers to seek an overhaul of the Covid-19 related rules.

“The debate for clubs and fans going forward is should a team forfeit a game on health and safety grounds or play their U19 players against professional players and accept the consequences,” they continued.

“We reserve the right to consider all other options, as future Covid 19 cases within clubs cannot be ruled out.

“We ask other League of Ireland clubs to call for a review of the FAI Covid-19 rules for season 2021 and rearrange any fixtures affected by these rules.”

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