Shoe-string budget for Harps in 2011

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FINN HARPS’ will be run on an even tighter budget for the forthcoming season in the Airtricity League Division and the club’s top-earners are also likely to have their wages trimmed.

Ballybofey boss, James Gallagher, met with club chairman, Mr. Joey O’Leary last month and then with the Board of Directors at the Finn Park club last Monday night with a view to continuing in charge of the Donegal side.

And talks will continue next week as Harps put plans in place for the new campaign which will kick-off next March.

Talk about an increase in the size of the Premier Division for the 2012 season, from 10 teams to 12, means that life in the First Division could be even more competitive than normal, with perhaps three promotion spots on offer. That, though, is all specualtion at the moment as Gallagher and Harps officials continue to worry about matters closer to home before looking elsewhere.

Harps trundled home in eighth position last term, which was Gallagher’s first full season having taken over from Paul Hegarty midway through the previous campaign. The club’s financial situation has been well documented and the postponement of Sunday’s glamour friendly against Celtic, due to the adverse weather conditions, was a particularly tough body blow.

“We went through a lot of different things and the main thing is I would like to have a squad of players in place that will make the club competitive next season,” Gallagher said of his meetings with the club’s officer board.

“I am well aware that things are tight and are likely to become even more so come next year, so I would never ask for an increased budget. What I would like is to bring in a few players that might be available at the right price that can bring this club on. At the same time, I’d like to hold onto most of the players we already have at the club.

“It’s well known that a lot of them played for very little wages last season and it’s going to be a similar case again, and perhaps some of those on higher wages might have to be cut a little. I have spoken to a couple of players so if we can get it together, then there is nothing to stop me taking the job.

“It was a real disappointment that the game against Celtic had to be postponed, but there was very little that could be done about it at either end. They have given us their word that the game will be rescheduled in the New Year so at least that’s something we can look forward to.

“I will meet with the chairman again next week and to date things have been positive, but there are still a couple of things that I would like to look into. If I cannot put a squad in place that I believe in, then it will be difficult and I would have to think hard about whether or not the job is for me,” maintained the former goalkeeper.

Gallagher, therefore, has still not taken the job offer officially, therefore no players have been re-signed or released. It is known that Stephen McLaughlin is still being courted by Derry City, while Marc Brolly has been offered at trial at League One outfit Rochdale AFC.

With McLaughlin under the age of 23, Harps would be due a development fee for the winger-cum-striker if he were to move to the Brandywell. Even though he is currently out of contract, UEFA rules stipulate that training compensation for such players must be paid.

“Stephen and Derry City and still in talks and at the minute so it’s up to the two clubs to agree on the transfer should he decide to go there,” Gallagher added. “I have spoken to him on the matter and given him the best advice that I could, but Derry appear to be very interested in him while I would really like him to stay so we will have to wait and see what develops.

“As for Marc, he called me and told me that he was offered a trial with Rochdale. They are a well run club by all accounts and I wished him all the best. It’s a good opportunity for a player like Marc and I have always said that I will never stand in the way of a player if he gets a chance to further himself. I hope it works out for him, but if it doesn’t then I told him to give me a call when he gets back and we’ll see what we can do.”