Galway United to play 2020 First Division season “under protest”

By Declan Harte

Galway United will participate in the upcoming First Division season under protest amid controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the Shamrock Rovers B side.

The First Division Alliance (FDA), a group led by the other nine clubs in the division, today announced they have been in ongoing discussions with the FAI’s interim CEO, Gary Owens, and deputy CEO, Niall Quinn regarding the matter. 

FDA Boycott

The FDA have dropped plans to boycott matches against the ‘Development’ team due to potential cost of fines to clubs, and assurances have been made that their participation will be for this season only. 

“We understand that a full review of the League of Ireland will be driven by the FAI in the next six months and that this will involve all elements of Structure, Participation and Governance,” read a statement from the FDA.

“Given the opposition of the majority of clubs to ‘Development’ team participation in the League of Ireland, we would, among many Premier Division clubs, welcome the consideration of various options in a future structure to assist with player pathway and development as opposed to the fragmented structures that currently exist for clubs in all sectors for our young players.

“We are pleased that the review will include the National League Executive Committee and the Participation Agreement. The obvious neglect, in our opinion, of good Corporate Governance by the National League Executive Committee during this process shows that this Committee, as it stands, is not reflective of the views and needs of all our clubs.

“Our view that all FAI Committees need Independent Chairpersons and training in the basic concepts of Corporate Governance, and this, we believe, should be a key tenet of any review.

“Having considered the above, and the assurances we have received from Gary Owens and Niall Quinn, our clubs will play against a ‘B’ team for the 2020 season, but for the 2020 season only.

“However, our clubs will participate in the 2020 Airtricity Season under protest and our clubs and club officials will continue to highlight our views regarding ‘Development’ teams throughout the season.”

Purpose of Clubs Acadamies

The FDA have also called into question the purpose of clubs’ academies and their role in Irish football. They believe this approach is not right in terms of child welfare and safety. They have also called into question the integrity of the games, and the league itself, because of this. 

This comes at a time of major upheaval at the FAI after the resignation of former longstanding CEO John Delaney in 2019 and the receivement of a bailout from the last government at the turn of the year. 

Galway United were set to begin their 2020 First Division campaign last night against Athlone Town, but the match was called off due to the weather. They will instead begin the season next weekend away to Shamrock Reserves.

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