The Waterford FC team that secured Europa League football by finishing fourth in the Premier Division in 2018. Photo: Inpho.
The Blues’ first game in European football since 1986, which was due to come about this July after Waterford FC finished fourth in last season’s Premier Division, has been cast into doubt this evening. This is due to the that St. Patrick’s Athletic have written to the FAI arguing that they should be taking that place in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League on the basis that Waterford, who finished one place above them in last season’s table, are not eligible for a Uefa club licence.
According to Emmett Malone on irishtimes.com, “St Pat’s owner and executive chairman, Garrett Kelleher says that St Patrick’s Athletic have taken advice from the European Club Association on the matter and that they believe Waterford are in breach of a couple of the criteria laid down for being granted the license they need to compete.
He goes on, “On the one hand, the company that runs Waterford, Power Grade Limited, was only incorporated on December 14th, 2016, meaning that it does not meet Uefa’s licensing requirement in relation to clubs that “the membership and the contractual relationship (if any) must have lasted – at the start of the license season – for at least three consecutive years.”
And it doesn’t end there. “The other point raised is in relation “overdue payables” or debts owed to other parties within the game. In their letter, St Patrick’s Athletic suggest that there are still football debts owed by the former Waterford United. ” This is believed to be outstanding payments to a former manager, an allegation that the club denies.
“The club contends that in 2012 a reconstituted Derry City was prevented from competing in the Europa League, despite having paid off all of the outstanding football debt of the previous company, because it did not fulfil the three year requirement.
On that occasion, an appeal by Derry against the decision failed and Bohemians ultimately took their place in the competition.”
It is understood that the sub-committee at the FAI that deals with European club licences is due to meet next week and announcements on who got them for this year are expected soon.
“A handful of clubs across Europe fail in their attempt to obtain a licence each season and in addition to Derry City, Shelbourne were unable to participate in the 2007/08 Champions League qualifying rounds. The most common basis for a club having licensing is “overdue payables”.
The FAI issued a statement this evening to say they received a letter from St. Pat’s and were looking into the matter.
The Waterford News & Star contacted Waterford FC this evening but they said they were not commenting on the matter at this time.”