Kenny Shiels claims fixture congestion is ‘outrageous’ as pile-up takes its toll on Derry City

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels consults his fixture schedule ahead of a busy period.
Derry City manager Kenny Shiels consults his fixture schedule ahead of a busy period.

KENNY SHIELS has become the latest manager to voice his frustrations about the fixture congestion facing League of Ireland clubs, claiming the hectic scheduling is ‘outrageous’.

Derry City will have played 15 times in the space of nine weeks from April 30th until May 30th as a result of the FAI cramming in matches before the beginning of the European competitions in July and the postponed fixtures against both Dundalk and Cork from earlier in the season.

It should come as no surprise as the move from a 12 to 10 team Premier Division meant three additional games this season and the campaign was lengthened by just one week. Games then become more spaced out in the second half of the campaign to allow for both progression in Europe and FAI Cup replays.

The fixture pile-up over April and May didn’t seemed to affect the Candy Stripe as they went on a 10 game unbeaten run prior to tonight’s shock 2-1 loss to bottom of the table outfit, Bray Wanderers as a second lengthy away trip in the space of five days appeared to take its toll on the club’s jaded players.

While Shiels understands the FAI’s decision-making, he is concerned about player burn-out given the size of his squad.

“We actually have more than the rest in this congested period,” said the City boss. “We have the two postponed games because of the youth internationals’ commitments and on top of that we’re in Europe. So the league is accommodating the European teams. But we have to be mindful that our boys are tired like everybody else.

“I want to be as constructive as I can. We have to be mindful that the league has been supportive of our European games by bringing games forward. But ours have abundantly been put into this pile. We play four or five Mondays in succession. We play Friday and then Monday.

“From March 30th to April 30th we played eight games. We won six and drew two. From April 30th to May 30th we play seven games. So that’s 15 games in two months! That is outrageous.”