Limerick senior soccer was thrown into chaos once more last week with the news that Pat O’Sullivan’s Limerick FC were granted permission by the Football Association of Ireland to apply for an Airtricity League First Division licence for the 2020 season.
Mr O’Sullivan began High Court proceedings against the FAI following their failure to invite Limerick FC to participate in the First Division. O’Sullivan’s legal representatives argued that it was the duty of the FAI to invite the club to apply and that the association had already accepted Shamrock Rovers B to compete despite all other competing clubs objecting against the move.
Following conflict resolution talks between the FAI and the club during the legal proceedings, the FAI released a statement on Friday night, saying that Limerick FC would be welcome to apply for a licence for the new season.
“Following talks with the club this week, the FAI are satisfied that Limerick FC, who trade as Munster Football Club Limited, came out of Examinership on December 11th, 2019.
The Independent Club Licensing Committee is due to meet next month to assess all applications from Premier & First Division clubs ahead of the 2020 season kicking off”.
Limerick FC were set to be liquidated following the failure to secure new investment in December but on Friday night, the club released a statement of their own stating that they had secured international investment to the tune of €500,000 to aid the survival of senior soccer for the next three seasons with a concentration on underage development also paramount.
“Limerick FC has confirmed a future investment into Limerick FC of €500,000 from international investors to be invested over a three year period to secure the future of Limerick Senior, Ladies and Underage soccer.
A large part of the investment is ring fenced for underage soccer. Limerick FC is eager to involve the newly formed group using the name Limerick United to join together in the best interests of underage soccer in Limerick.
In normal circumstances, the football fraternity in Limerick would be delighted with the development and praying for a positive outcome. However in this case, confusion reigned supreme on Shannonside.
The reason being that a new group called Limerick United had been formed over a week ago and held their first press conference on Monday, January 13th, outlining their plans to resurrect senior football for the 2021 season.
The new organisation had already been accepted to compete in the underage and women’s leagues and former Limerick FC stalwarts Tommy Barrett and Irene Hehir were at the forefront of the operation led by Cllr. Conn Murray.
At the press conference, Conn Murray stated;
“Today is the beginning of a new era for football in Limerick. We are going to focus on what every club or sporting organisation does when it hits a low and that is focus on our youth. If you look at the top teams, clubs, counties or provinces in any sport, you will see pretty much everything points back to a moment in time where they put the focus on developing their young talent.”
Limerick FC chairman Pat O’Sullivan claimed that his entity had attempted to make contact with the organisation but that Councillor Murray had been advised not to engage while legal matters were ongoing. O’Sullivan urged Limerick United to join his entity in the best interests of soccer in Limerick.
“Limerick FC is willing to amalgamate with the new group to ensure the future of Limerick Soccer, Senior, Ladies and Underage.
Further, as a mark of goodwill to its county men and fellow football supporters, Limerick FC is also agreeable to the recently announced group members, including Conn Murray, Interim Chairman, and any coaches appointed by them to remain in place subject to FAI requirements regarding qualifications, Garda vetting etc.
The role of Chairman of Limerick FC Pat O’Sullivan can be addressed as part of any talks.”
As shown above, it appears that O’Sullivan is aware that in order to have any hope of receiving a licence at such short notice, he certainly needs the co-operation of the newly formed Limerick United.
Currently, Limerick FC have no coaches or players or even a ground to host home games. In contrast, Limerick United have coaches and are currently holding underage trials all the way up to U-19’s level. O’Sullivan is clearly aware that his position may cause controversy and has unofficially stated that he could take up an honorary role within any new alliance.
With the Airtricity League due to begin on February 14th 2020, it seems highly unlikely that we will see a Limerick side competing in the league in despite Limerick FC’s plans. As of Tuesday January 21st, there was no further contact between both parties in relation to a possible alliance and no response at all from Limerick United.