Celtic chief wades into row on top pre-season tournament in Limerick

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

THE chief executive of Celtic FC has said the FAI has “no grounds” for refusing to sanction a top pre-season soccer tournament in Thomond Park this summer.

THE chief executive of Celtic FC has said the FAI has “no grounds” for refusing to sanction a top pre-season soccer tournament in Thomond Park this summer.

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.

“I don’t know on what grounds they could say no,” the Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said over the weekend.

“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, who refused to comment, claimed in February to have an agreement in place with Iconic Worldwide Events to run a Dublin event.

Ennis businessman Damien O’Brien, who runs the company, has denied having such an agreement and said that he is instead trying to bring it to Limerick, claiming to have a four-year television deal already in place.

“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.

Thomond Park boss John Cantwell said last week: “We received an offer from a leading promoter to hold a tournament with some big teams including Chelsea and Celtic and some European teams”.

“We obviously put in a request to the FAI, because we can’t hold it 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,” he added.