Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Lawlor: Cash warning too late

Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor says the Irish Football Association’s call for clubs to tighten their belts has come five years too late.

IFA president Raymond Kennedy said in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph that clubs have to cut back on the amount of cash paid out in wages to players, in the wake of Lisburn Distillery’s financial crisis.

However, Lawlor claims more has to be done by the governing body to prevent other teams going down the same route as the Whites by keeping a closer eye on who is running them and punishing those who fail to keep clubs on a firm financial footing by making them exempt from positions of power within the IFA.

“I read what Raymond said and I think the IFA probably should have been coming out with this sort of statement five years ago,” said Lawlor.

“This is my first year on the Irish Premier League committee and I have noticed that there are a lot of power-hungry people on various committees in the IFA.

“I am there for the good of Cliftonville Football club and I have no interest in any perks or international trips or anything like that because I have enough to concern myself with.

“But there are others who have a different objective and that needs to stop.

“We have certain people becoming involved in four or five different clubs, one after the other, leaving disaster after disaster behind them and the IFA have to do more to stop this.”

And the Solitude chief believes that taking away a club’s say in the corridors of power is just the way to end the mis-management.

“I think if clubs are being mis-

managed, which is what is happening in some cases here, then they shouldn’t be allowed to sit on committees.

“Punish them and then maybe that will force them to change their ways.

“The IFA have to watch who is running clubs a bit more closely, maybe in the same way that happens in the Premier League in England where a fit for purpose criteria has to be passed before anyone can take over the running of a club.

“Unfortunately the clubs here need the money that badly that they are willing to take anyone in if there is the promise of funding.”

Lawlor added: “There are clubs, like ours, who cut their cloth but when others, who are clearly living above their means, are offering more money to players than we can then that puts the pressure on.

“We have been in a position where we are talking to players and Distillery are offering them maybe £60 or £70 a week more than we can and that just isn’t on.

“It happens to other clubs too and it isn’t fair.

“Something has to be done to fix that and, as well as that, maybe the IFA can offer more assistance in helping clubs to run things better.

“At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, this is a business and the IFA could maybe provide training to clubs from a business or administrative point of view.

“The business side of things is the most important and if you get that right, then you start worrying about what is going on on the pitch.”

Carling Premiership clubs were dealt a further financial blow last night when the entire domestic programme was frozen out as temperatures tumbled across Northern Ireland.

All six games were called off by yesterday afternoon leaving clubs counting the cost of a weather-ravaged week that has seen just one out of 12 holiday fixtures go ahead.

Games at Cliftonville, Linfield, Dungannon Swifts, Lisburn Distillery, Newry City and Portadown all fell foul to the big freeze and while Lawlor, whose team were due to face in-form Coleraine, admitted his club are feeling the pinch, he held his hands up and put it down to a freak of nature.

“It is frustrating because with it still being the holiday season we would have been expecting a decent crowd,” he said.

“When the match is replayed we will probably lose about a third of the crowd, but what can you do?

“It’s is just one of those things. We have had a couple called off this season — though with all due respect they were against Institute and Distillery where we wouldn’t expect as big a gate as we would have had here.

“But these things happen. The weather is bad all across the country and it is not just football that has suffered. Other sports have been cancelled too. You just have to be prepared for a financial hit.”

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