Coleraine striker Eoin Bradley has insisted that if Kilrea United fold due to being unable to pay a FIFA fine of 10,000 Swiss francs it will be a huge loss to the community.
Along with his brother and fellow Derry GAA star Paddy, Bradley played for Kilrea as a youngster and their father managed the club. Before football was brought to a halt across Northern Ireland by the coronavirus pandemic in March, the Bannsiders favourite was training the Kilrea players.
Like all connected with the Coleraine and District League side he has been stunned that world football's governing body have ordered them to pay a fine of almost £8,500 for fielding an unregistered player last season, as revealed at the weekend by the Sunday Life.
Kilrea were punished for playing English teenager Pierce Hill-Worrall in the latter part of the 2018/2019 campaign having signed him from Boys FA League outfit Bertie Peacocks in February last year.
Last season the Coleraine and District League ruled that Hill-Worrall had not been registered properly with Kilrea deducted nine points leading them to lose a league title. In the summer of 2019 the IFA Appeals Board said they had sympathy with the village club but upheld the decision.
Thinking that was the end of the matter Kilrea were rocked last month by news of a hefty FIFA Disciplinary Committee fine which has left them fearing for their survival.
A FIFA spokesperson said: "On 18 May 2020, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee found Kilrea United responsible for the infringement of the relevant provisions of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players related to the registration of players and the protection of minors."
Bradley says: "If Kilrea have to pay the FIFA fine they are going to be put out of business.
"I don't know how FIFA would expect a small club like Kilrea to pay a fine like that.
"Kilrea is a small place and the club is a big part of the community. When everyone was growing up in Kilrea they would go and watch the team play and it brought people together.
"The boys who run the club are just normal guys. There are no multi-millionaires.
"It is just hard work and the support of people in the town and surrounding areas that keep it going.
"If they were to fold because of this it would be a huge loss to the community.
"It was where I started playing soccer as a 15 year-old.
"My brother Paddy played for the team as well and my father managed the club so we have a family connection there.
"It would hurt me and many others if the club couldn't continue."
Bradley also feels for Lisburn League Youth team TW Braga who have been fined 10,000 Swiss francs after the FIFA Disciplinary Committee met last month declaring the club was "responsible for the infringement of the relevant provisions of the Regulations related to the registration of players and the protection of minors".
The issue arose with FIFA investigating the registration of TW Braga's ex-forward from New York, 17-year-old Hassan Ayari, who is now with Sheffield United.
FIFA take a serious view on international clearance issues and the registration of young players.
Kilrea and TW Braga had been hoping for some help from the IFA but while Northern Ireland football's governing body outlined in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph they sympathised with the clubs over the size of the fines they added that they respected FIFA's rules.