FAI Cup still in doubt as League of Ireland resumption talks continue

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By Liam Mackey

The possible cancellation of this season’s FAI Cup – at an estimated saving of €300,000 – is still on the table in talks surrounding the resumption of the League of Ireland.

The controversial idea was again discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the LOI steering group and also featured prominently in a subsequent briefing of players by the PFAI.

Says the union’s General Secretary Stephen McGuinness: “A number of our members when they saw some media speculation around the FAI Cup thought it would be pretty dramatic not to run the Cup and were wondering about the reasons behind it.

“And, in fairness to the clubs, they explained that it takes quite a substantial amount of money to run the FAI Cup every year and that if that money could be used to ensure that players’ wages were paid, then there’s more of an understanding from our perspective that, maybe for one season, the cup could be cancelled.

“I’d give the caveat that any decision of that nature would have to take in UEFA’s thoughts on it because obviously the Cup carries a Europa League spot and we can’t afford to lose a European spot.

“I think the FAI want the Cup to go ahead and, personally, I think it should be run because there’s realistically only two or three teams can win the league but an FAI Cup run can keep your season alive, and the final is a great day for clubs and supporters.”

Also still to be resolved is a proposal among some top-flight clubs that relegation could be suspended for one season to help protect against the long-term consequences of losing out in a shortened campaign which, as things stand, would be expected to run from July 31 to October 31st.

“The majority of our members, based on our discussions, would feel it’s an integrity issue and that there should be promotion and relegation,” says McGuinness. “Again, I understand the financial dimension to that for some clubs and that the landscape has changed dramatically from a 36-game season to an 18-game season. But our members would feel that the integrity of the game is really important and where potentially there’s no relegation and the top four get away a little bit, you could have five or six teams playing for little or nothing.

“These are some of the elements that were discussed and the other big part, obviously, is money that is going to be owed to the players. Discussions are going to start taking place between players and clubs and that’s going to be a tricky situation club by club. You’ve got the whole of the First Division not paid and we’ve got five clubs in the Premier Division currently not paying so there’s going to be a lot of discussion over the next week or so to try and find a resolution to all of these problems.”

Meanwhile, Waterford have begun advertising for a new manager to replace Alan Reynolds.

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