Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Derry City crisis was waiting to happen

Derry City legend Liam Coyle says the present financial crisis engulfing the club was inevitable because of the way it is run.

Coyle, who remains the leading goalscorer at the Brandywell, says that has always been the situation, even when he was a Derry player.

“I’ve felt for years that the club’s main focus has been too much on what goes on on the pitch and not enough on the football club,” he said.

“That is fundamentally wrong.

“The concentration goes into the team winning and nothing looking forward to the long-term.

“That has always been the situation going way back. They have nothing they can call their own and everything is at the behest of the city council.”

Coyle, who works now as a football pundit, says that if the club is to survive, a 10-year plan needs to be put in place to lay a solid foundation for the future.

“Derry need to look at what Shamrock Rovers have done with their move to Tallaght,” he adds.

“You need a 10-year plan put into place to build something like that.

“It took Rovers 22 years but they are starting to reap the rewards for that now and they are going to be the dominant force in the League of Ireland for many years to come.

“Relying on supporters coming through the turnstiles is never going to be enough to keep a club afloat.

“The sponsors pulling out was a blow but you are not talking about huge amounts of money here, and it shouldn’t have come to this.

“They are living from year to year and if they are not at rock bottom now then they need to get there soon and start to turn it around again.”

Former City full-back Sean Hargan believes the majority of the first team squad will head to the Irish League next year.

“I would expect that most will look to move into the Irish League and play their football part-time and a couple might look to stay part-time and move to England,” he said.

“It’s clubs in the Irish League which will benefit from this.”

Hargan, who left the Brandywell for Crusaders last year, says he expects the League of Ireland to find Derry a place in the First Division next year, but that it will be a team made up of young players.

And he says he is worried about the plight the current players find themselves in,” he admitted.

“I have a lot of friends still at the club and it’s them I feel sorry for.

“They haven’t been paid for nine weeks now and won’t be able to sign up with new clubs until January and with Christmas coming up — it’s looking bleak for them.

“It’s a very sad situation and I’m surprised that a big club like Derry can find itself in this situation. It’s Eddie McCallion’s testimonial year and everything he had planned for that has all fallen apart.”

Pascal Vaudequin, a member of Derry’s 1989 treble-winning team and now a coach with the IFA, said clubs all over Ireland now need to wake up or face similar problems to City.

“The League of Ireland cannot afford to lose clubs like Derry City and Shelbourne and look at the troubles that Cork, Sligo, Galway and Drogheda have had as well.

“Bohemians have won the title the last two years and they are struggling,” he said.

“Clubs have to be realistic about the wages that they pay. They need crowds of 10,000 and they are not getting them. I know Derry is big enough and they will take this on the chin. They can restructure the club and turn it around and they can learn from his situation. Derry is too big to die.”

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