United players hit hard by shut down of games

It is believed Galway United players and management have been informed their wages have been suspended as a result of the coronavirus hitting Ireland.

With SSE Airtricity League of Ireland football expected to be shut down for several months, clubs throughout the country are currently under severe strain. And without gate receipts as revenue, it is expected the vast majority of first division outfits will follow this path.

Drogheda United were the first to announce the measure on Monday evening, and several others are likely to adopt similar measures.

Galway United's last home league fixture took place on September 16 when defeating Limerick FC 3-2 at Eamonn Deacy Park.

The two first division matches scheduled for the Corribside venue in 2020 against Athlone Town and Cabinteely were postponed due to adverse weather and Covid 19.

An EA Sports Cup opening round tie did take place in the west on March 10 when United overcame Athlone Town 2-0. That marked United's first home assignment in 176 days, and it remains unclear when the Tribesmen will be in a position to host another fixture.

While the Comer Group has provided United with significant sponsorship in recent campaigns, there is no disguising that the club has severely restricted revenue streams.

Since returning to senior football in 2014, Galway United have encountered a mixture of encouraging and painful moments.

The promotion secured in 2014 with the splendid and comprehensive play-off successes over Shelbourne and UCD hinted at the potential which exists. Reaching the EA Sports Cup decider in 2015 was another memorable occasion with United suffering a cruel defeat to St Patrick's Athletic in front of 3,662 spectators at Eamonn Deacy Park.

However, worrying signs were evident in 2016 before United suffered relegation the following season, despite possessing some highly regarded footballers. And, the subsequent two campaigns, 2018 and 2019, spent in the first division brought demanding and demoralising losses.

A restricted budget meant manager Alan Murphy was forced to integrate a raft of young players from the locality last year, with real hope and expectation that a promotion bid could be launched this season.

Now, though, the stark financial reality means an uncertain future surrounds the future of the domestic game. With United presently entered in national competitions at U13, 15, 17, 19, and senior levels, a significant amount of players and coaches are being hit.

“For our League of Ireland clubs, there is a difficult time for all,” says FAI interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn. “And they are meeting again on Thursday to discuss this. We’re meeting with them and the players’ representatives, as well regularly with the steering group. We’re all worried, we’re all hoping to find some pathways through this very difficult time.

"I don’t think they want to play behind closed doors. We don’t have lucrative TV deals to make up for that happen. We need to be playing with crowds and the system works that way. There is a lot of talking to be done with the stakeholders. We’re here to do that talking. We’re here to help in any way we can.

"It’s difficult for players, but when you take a peep outside football and see the devastation, talk of 200,000 being let go this week, it’s a nationwide problem, it’s awful.

“How do we best prepare our clubs and players for it and assist them with it? We’re wading through it right now, there is a lot of discussion, there is huge sympathy for what’s happening out there.

“We’re hoping that repaying owed fees will help, in other ways, we can find some more revenue creating opportunities for clubs.”

 

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