KENNY SHIELS has cried ‘foul’ in the race for Europe, claiming Derry City are being penalised for their strict adherence to Financial Fair Play Rules.
Shiels’ revelations, which come in the wake of Friday night’s demoralising 5-0 loss at the hands of Bray Wanderers, could open a can of worms after he claimed Derry simply can’t compete with clubs who are allegedly living beyond their means!
The ‘Candy Stripes’ are now facing a huge challenge from last weekend’s victors in their pursuit of European qualification and Shiels openly claimed that it has been difficult to compete with the Co. Wicklow club’s financial muscle!
The ‘Seagulls’ had been plunged into a financial crisis earlier this season when it was announced they couldn’t afford to honour the players’ contracts following the withdrawal of financial backer, Gerry Mulvey.
However, that crisis has since been resolved - at least in the short term - with players set to receive their wages on time between now and the end of the season after securing the necessary funding to complete the 2017 SSE Airtricity League season.
But the Derry boss holds the view that the Bray financial situation is ‘indicative of the league’ and, according to Shiels, with “certain clubs throwing money at players,” it makes his job extremely difficult when attempting to strengthen.
I don’t think it’s fair on clubs like ourselves who are doing it the right way. The Financial Fair Play situation needs to be looked at. Is our league addressing that? That’s what I want to know.Kenny Shiels
Shiels revealed he had made approaches to current Bray players, Aaron Greene and Gary McCabe, last December but said he couldn’t compete with the money offered by Harry Kenny’s club - something which still doesn’t sit well with the Magherafelt man.
And so he’s called on the FAI to enforce the Financial Fair Play rules, suggesting that clubs are blatantly flaunting the rules.
“I was in for Gary McCabe and Aaron Greene last December but couldn’t get near them financially and yet Bray signed them in what was a massive investment,” maintained Shiels.
“People are forgetting that Bray have one of the biggest budgets in the league, along with the ‘big three’ and St. Pat’s and probably Sligo.
“Those two players were influential every time we played Bray this season and I can’t get near them financially. The most difficult thing is that Bray throw this kind of money at their players and then can’t afford to pay them when their investor pulls out. The players have got confirmation that they are going to get paid until the end of the season and that gave them a lift. They’re a good team, but they have a lot of heavy investment.”
The Derry boss also claimed the Wicklow side were “one of the highest investors in this league.”
He went on: “That doesn’t sit well with me that a club has agreed to pay wages and, by its own admission, can’t afford to pay those wages, but they’re getting clearance to pay them until the end of the season.
“I don’t think it’s fair on clubs like ourselves who are doing it the right way. The Financial Fair Play situation needs to be looked at. Is our league addressing that? That’s what I want to know.
“I think it’s grossly unfair on a club like us, a club which does things the right way when bringing young players through. We’re getting kicked in the belly because clubs are paying these massive wages. How can this be right?
“It’s my understanding that there is a Fair Play system in place. where clubs are only allowed to spend 60 per cent of their income on wages.
“How can clubs just spend what they want; pay these figures and cherry pick players? It’s indicative of the league. What other club will do it next year? Will it be Limerick paying much more than us. Will it be Sligo?” asked Shiels.
Meanwhile, Shiels is looking to build for next season with Conor Agnew, who previously plied his trade in the North American Soccer League with Puerto Rico FC, currently here on trial.