Supporters to hold open meeting to discuss new United licensing bid

A special open meeting for all Galwegians interested in supporting a new licensing application for Galway United will be held in the Claddagh Hall on Sunday (7pm ).

The application is being sought by the Galway United Supporters’ Trust after the existing United directors withdrew their application when GUST no longer “agreed to run Galway United Football Club”.

GUST members, in a written statement, say they have been “astounded by the messages of support from around the world by Galwegians and football fans” who are supporting its licence application for the 2012 Airtricity League.

“Many people have offered help, financial and otherwise, with our application, many people want to get more information.”

As a result it is “ extending an open invitation to any person interested in supporting the trust’s objective on any level to return Galway senior soccer back to its roots as a community club run and directed by its members” to attend Sunday’s meeting.

A dramatic couple of days for Galway United has seen the supporters’ trust, which was in charge of the day-to-day running of the club in 2011, apply for a licence to operate in the League of Ireland as a new entity next season.

In a statement released on Tuesday the directors of Galway United, under its current guise, have withdrawn their application for a licence.

"Following the extremely late decision by GUST to withdraw from the transitional agreement to run Galway United Football Club, the directors are left with no option but to withdraw their application for a licence for the Airtricity League 2012 season.

“The ensuing 12 months will allow the club to assess strategic and infrastructural changes that are required to be made ahead of an application for the 2013 season. A decision will then be taken as to the best route forward for soccer in Galway and discussions will take place with all stakeholders."

Galway endured their worst campaign on the pitch, losing 36 out of 40 competitive matches, but there were problems away from the park too. The substantial debt surrounding the club, believed to be close to €1million, has proven to be problematic for the supporter-led group, which did its utmost in difficult circumstances.

Those involved in the management committee of the trust have discussed this matter throughout the season and eventually it was officially decided on Monday to follow in the footsteps of Cork City. The Leesiders, who were called Cork City FORAS for a year, have done a remarkable job in reviving senior soccer and will operate in the top flight again in 2012.

GUST is hoping to replicate Cork's success by involving itself in the community and without the pressures a huge debt brings.

At Monday's AGM of the GUST the group unanimously agreed to end its agreement with the directors of Galway United Football Club in relation to its day-to-day management of the club and to submit an independent licence application for membership of the 2012 Airtricity League in the name of Galway United Supporters Trust Football Club.

The group is keen to utilise the expertise of the UEFA-funded organisation, Supporters Direct, which seeks to promote a sustainable spectator sports club, based on supporters' involvement and community ownership. Supporters Direct is eager to assist the GUST in making a licensing application and a representative has travelled to Galway recently.

Members of the GUST are expected to meet with FAI officials early next week to discuss the licensing application. Anxious to retain its roots in the Galway game, GUST appointed United legend Tom Lally as a vice president. Also voted as vice president was long-standing supporter and trustee of Galway Rovers, Fred Bray.

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