Salthill Devon’s League of Ireland team will today be rebranded as SD Galway FC and play its League of Ireland fixtures at Terryland Park for the upcoming season, but FAI chief executive John Delaney believes the Galway United Supporters’ Trust can still play a role in League of Ireland football in the west.
GUST members rejected proposals from both Salthill Devon and Mervue United to amalgamate, and at a meeting in the Claddagh Hall on Tuesday night unanimously voted to continue to remain independent. Ultimately GUST's decision means that there will be no Galway United involvement in the 2012 Airtricity League first division.
Delaney was disappointed a link could not be arranged between the three parties, but is hopeful some kind of positive solution can be found over the coming months with further negotiations expected.
“I think everybody who I met in Galway, the people from GUST, Mervue United, and the Galway and District League, had the good of Galway football at heart. I believe they all have the right motives, but unfortunately the timescale was against getting a solution that would have been satisfactory to all. It was a pity that an agreement couldn't be reached, but it must be stated that during the negotiations progress was made and that is a good sign,” Delaney said.
“The GUST people involved in the process and negotiations were good football people. John Flannery, Mike Daly, Sean Dunleavy, and Tommy Lally have a love for a maroon and white team playing out of Terryland Park. The members and supporters of GUST are good football supporters and any solution that can be found in the future should try to include these supporters. Supporters are very important in football and the role they play should never be underestimated.”
Only eight clubs will participate in this season's first division with SD Galway FC playing their home games at the Dyke Road venue. Mervue United will continue to be based at Fahy's Field.
The FAI was eager to ensure a team with Galway in its name operated at Terryland, according to Delaney.
“Salthill Devon have a fantastic facility out in Drom and I think it is important there will be a Galway team playing out of Terryland Park this season, simply to keep senior football alive in the venue. Terryland Park is a lovely stadium and we wanted a Galway team playing there, that was important.
“Mervue United also have fine facilities and they have a good sense of community in the club, there is a great community spirit and ethos, and that is always important to have at a football club.”
Delaney insists the FAI is striving towards one single entity representing Galway in the future.
“Going forward we ideally would like to marry the three different constituencies that exist in Galway at present. The process isn't finished and further meetings and negotiations will take place. We must strive to get a solution that has a good, strong football team coming out of Galway.
“From now on meetings will take place and we have to see how can we arrive at a solution. Privately the three parties were all of the opinion they would like to see one strong team in Galway and we want to facilitate that happening. Obviously so many factors are associated with that happening and we have to find something that satisfies all. Who will run the club? What will the club be named? How is the club arranged? Where will home games be played? Logically a team wearing maroon should play at Terryland Park.
“Over the recent process we tried to marry two of the three entities and it just didn't work at this moment, but that is not to say something cannot be worked out. We want a situation where people from the different groups are comfortable and that there are solid structures put in place."
GUST, in a statement, said it was “extremely disappointed” with the FAI decision not to proceed with its Airtricity League licence application for 2012.
“Members of Galway United Supporters’ Trust voted to continue to remain independent and to pursue their vision of a community-based football club representing Galway city and county. As a result of this decision, the proposals from both Salthill Devon and Mervue United in relation to any amalgamations were rejected.”
GUST said its members remained fully committed to ensuring their vision would become a reality in 2013.
“ In the months ahead GUST will continue ongoing dialogue with all interested parties throughout the community about the future of League of Ireland football in Galway.”