THE Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, has written to FAI chief executive John Delaney to ask him to remove his ‘personal impediment’ to the mooted pre-season soccer tournament in Thomond Park in August.
The email to the FAI chief reads: “I am very disappointed and annoyed at your personal impediment in relation to the proposed tournament and the application made by Thomond Park.
“This tournament is well advanced. It is of huge significance to Limerick city, its economy and to soccer both locally and nationally. I am requesting, as a matter of urgency, you remove your impediment and allow this tournament to proceed,” writes Cllr Long to Mr Delaney.
As revealed in the Limerick Leader last week, the FAI refused to sanction a lucrative tournament in the stadium that was to feature Champions League winners Chelsea, Celtic and two other leading European teams, on the grounds that they have their own tournament planned in Dublin.
However, the company the FAI claimed to have an agreement with for the Dublin tournament has said instead it intends to bring it to Limerick, claiming to have a four-year television deal already in place.
Thomond Park stadium boss John Cantwell, who confirmed last week that a deal was in place to host a lucrative pre-season soccer tournament in the stadium, said this Thursday that he had not received an update on the situation and was still awaiting contact from the FAI.
The chief executive of Celtic FC has added weight to the argument by saying that the FAI has “no grounds” for refusing to sanction the tournament.
“I don’t know on what grounds they could say no,” the Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said.
“We are hopeful that the FAI can approve it and our advice is that they don’t really have any grounds not to approve it,” he said.
The FAI have repeatedly refused to comment on the situation, with requests for clarification on the situation ignored. A statement on their website, posted in February, claims the association has an agreement in place with Iconic Worldwide Events to run a Dublin event.
However, the Ennis businessman Damien O’Brien, who runs the company, has denied having such an agreement.
“I am trying to bring a tournament to Thomond Park because I have no agreement to take anything to the Aviva, which is an expensive stadium to hire and run,” he said.
John Cantwell said last week Thomond Park had “put in a request to the FAI, because we can’t hold a tournament without sanction from them, but that hasn’t been forthcoming. The reason being given is that they have an alternative, another tournament planned for the same period”.