The FAI will look favourably on an application from a new company running Derry City to play in the League of Ireland next season, chief executive John Delaney said last night.
Mr Delaney led a four-man FAI delegation to the city to hold talks with local businessmen, Derry City Council and supporters yesterday.
He urged the shareholders and former directors of the company currently running the club, to take immediate steps to wind it up.
“The view that was formulated today was that a new company be formed to look to apply to the FAI to play League of Ireland football next season,” he said.
“That would come in effectively unencumbered by debt. It couldn’t play in our Premier Division obviously, but the sense was that an application could be made to play in our First Division.
“We have come to Derry to give advice and support that is required to get a first class application in under a new entity to play in our league. I would be of the view that if a good application comes in, there is support within the association and that would be looked upon favourably for them to play in the First Division of our league next season.
“And if that were to come to pass it would be a wonderful result for the supporters of Derry City.”
Mr Delaney’s delegation met with a group of Derry businessmen yesterday morning including former chairman Paul Diamond, former directors Jackie McAuley, Phillip O’Doherty and Martin McDaid and Patrick Durkan, brother of SDLP leader Mark.
They are acting as a steering committee, designed to find a way Derry City can re-enter the league, although they do not necessarily want to be involved in the future running of the club.
Nevertheless, Mr Delaney said their support for the club had been a major factor in determining a positive outlook to the day’s series of meetings.
“Everyone was really positive and everyone wants what’s best for the football club, so we are all on the same team,” he said.
“It was about developing a road map to get the club back into the League of Ireland.
“We certainly developed the road map to do that.”
Although the debts of the current company — estimated by Mr Delaney yesterday at £800,000 — would not be carried over, he said the FAI would still look for that to be cleared.
And he also confirmed that Derry’s record for playing in the League of Ireland and finishing fourth last season had been expunged.
“I would urge the shareholders of the old company to act quickly in terms of what is going to happen there,” he said.
“There is serious debt and issues surrounding that.
“A new company would be coming in without any of the existing debt.
“But we would want to know what was happening with the company that previously held the franchise.
“It would be important for us to know and we can’t just leave that sitting there.”
He added that the old club had debts to the league which just about wiped out any outstanding prize-money.
“During the season there would be affiliation fees, referees costs, there would be money advanced to Derry and if you actually take all that into account at the moment it’s all about even,” he said.
“It’s a bit of cherry-picking to say there is prize-money owed when there is money owed to the FAI. Any inter-company account held between the league and the football club stays with the old company.”