Cash-strapped Newry embrace amateur future
Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side Newry City have taken the drastic step of reverting to Amateur status.
The current squad, managed by former Northern Ireland international Pat McGibbon, have been informed they will not be paid from New Year's Day.
The County Down club have run into financial difficulties, since they were relegated from the Carling Premiership, despite slashing the wage bill by 75%.
Newry City Chairman Paul McKenna said: “It is a difficult time for football clubs and I like to think we have been proactive, in addressing our financial problems, rather than reactive.
“We've made the decision to change from a professional sports club, to an amateur side.
“We've done this to avoid running the risk of getting into debt, or running into problems with HRMC. We're taking the pain now, rather than later.”
McKenna is confident there will not be a mass exodus of players from the club when the transfer window opens in January.
He added: “The players have agreed to see the season out with club, and try and get promotion with the current squad. Even the guys who travel from Monaghan want to stay on, as they're enjoying playing for the club.
“We have a squad of players, many of whom are local to the club, who want to play for Newry.
“You couldn't say that in the past. Now we've got a hard working group of players who love the club. That's what we need to do with football in Northern Ireland, take the money out and put the love back in.”
Newry City are second in the Championship 1, eight points behind league leaders Ballinamallard United. Despite this setback the club intend to apply for a domestic licence, which would allow them to gain promotion back to the Carling Premiership. Newry City also plan to install a 3G pitch at the Showgrounds.