Derry City boss Declan Devine fuming with fixture scheduling
Derry City manager Declan Devine has described the decision that his side look set to play just one game in six weeks, as ‘ridiculous and ludicrous’.
The Brandywell men will have played four games in 10 days after Monday night’s League Cup tie against Finn Harps.
But they are then expected to play just one game - at Shamrock Rovers, on Friday June 8 - before the mid-season break, because a host of SSE Airtricity Premier Division clubs have players in Stephen Kenny’s Ireland U21 squad for next month’s Toulon tournament.
As a result, both Derry and Cork City will have no home games for six weeks.
Games have yet to be officially called off, but Derry’s home clashes with UCD on 31 May and Waterford on 14 June are likely to be played later in the year.
Devine’s charges face Ollie Horgan’s men on Friday, but their next league game in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium is scheduled for 5 July against Dundalk. That too will be moved due to the league leaders playing in the Champions League that week.
It is likely that one of the postponed games will be fitted in at some point before the clash with Sligo Rovers on 19 July, however the current problem has left Devine extremely angry.
“It’s frustrating and it’s absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous and it sums up where the league is at the minute in my opinion,” he stated.
“I have been first to turn around and say, ‘bring on the games, this is great, this is what we want.’ But to not have a home league game for six weeks and have two in four days, where’s the common sense.
“There’s nobody at this game tonight. There was two of the biggest clubs in Ireland playing each other and there’s no-one at the match.
“St Pat’s and Derry City are playing in Inchicore on a Tuesday night, fourth v fifth, two great footballing sides, two big clubs and there’s 600/700 people at the game and the reason being there has been too many games and supporters can’t afford to come two or three times a week.
“We have had two games in 72 hours, we’ll have another game in 72 hours and we’ll have another game after that in 72 hours again and then we don’t have a home game for six weeks, it’s just madness.
“Look, it’s madness and if someone could tell me the logic then it would be great.”
Devine went on to say that he questions the hierarchy at the FAI on making the decisions and he can also understand why clubs up and down the country are struggling financially.
“So whoever is running the league or whoever is making these decisions have to take a look at themselves,” he insisted.
“I have sat back and turned around and said, ‘It’s great these games are brilliant coming thick and fast.’ But in hindsight we have played 18 games up to this point, plus a League Cup game and now after our League Cup game next Monday we only have one game for six weeks. It’s madness and if anybody can give me a feasible excuse for that then I’m all ears.
“In my opinion we need to look after number one: the welfare of our clubs. The clubs having to go six weeks without a gate? Is it any wonder there’s teams in this country not getting paid?
“Six weeks without a home game is horrendous and one game during that time means players are going to have to do a mini pre-season, because you can’t let people just drift away. Whoever is making the decisions, they need to have a really good look at themselves, because it’s just madness.”