By Aidan Fitzmaurice
The fortunes of Shamrock Rovers FC show no signs of improving on or off the pitch as the cash-strapped club appear real candidates for relegation.
Rovers lie bottom of Ireland's 12-team Premier Division having been deducted eight points in May due to financial irregularities. A 2-1 win at champions Shelbourne FC in mid-June gave them hope but one victory from seven matches means relegation could well be on the cards. Rovers have taken just six points from 15 games, five less than second-from-bottom Finn Harps FC.
Money problems have prompted coach Roddy Collins to put his entire squad on the transfer list, and British-based millionaire Brian Quigley has opted against mounting a takeover of a club €2.5m in debt. A supporters' group, The 400 Club, will now try to wrest control. Waterford United FC are in a similarly precarious position. Player-manager Alan Reynolds quit because of poor results and the financial difficulties which have forced the Waterford board to transfer-list the whole squad.
'The outlook is bad'
The club are losing money - an estimated €6,000 a week - and losing games. Friday's 2-1 loss at Bohemian FC was Waterford's fifth in succession, leaving them eight points clear of Shamrock Rovers in tenth spot. "I fear for the future of the club," Reynolds said. "If the people and the business community of Waterford don't come out and rescue the club, the outlook is bad."
Shelbourne's bid for a third straight title is also in doubt as a dip in form has left them six points behind Cork City FC, the leaders who also have a match in hand. Shelbourne went five games without a win and lost in the first round of the FAI Cup before seeing off Waterford (4-2) and Longford Town FC (1-0). But Shels's 2-1 home defeat by Derry City FC last weekend further enhanced Cork's hopes of a first championship since 1993.
Cork are next in action on Friday night against a Bohemians side seeking a sixth consecutive league win. The Dubliners were not so fortunate against KAA Gent in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, relinquishing a 1-0 first-leg lead when going down 3-1 in Belgium.
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