Bohs step back from the brink
BOHEMIANS now stand a chance of surviving as a football club -- and staying out of the High Court -- after a day of talks yesterday over their financial obligations to their players.
Bohs fans were bracing themselves for a grim weekend of bad PR as two players who had initiated a winding-up order against the club over non-payment of wages had planned to give a press conference in Dublin to explain their reasons for going to court and voice their anger at their treatment by the club, who have not paid their players in eight weeks.
But following the intervention of the FAI, the press conference was called off and four hours of talks between the players' union (PFAI), the club and the FAI have yielded a result -- of sorts.
Bohs now hope to come to a settlement with the two players in question -- Brian Shelley and Stephen Gray -- on Monday or Tuesday.
Just how much they will be paid, and when, remains in doubt as there is a suggestion that they may be paid out of funds which are due to the club from the FAI for prizemoney. However, the pair and their representatives in the PFAI were happy with a promise from intermediaries in the FAI that they would be paid up.
If Bohs settle their debts with the duo that would see a court case over the winding up order -- listed for February 7 -- halted.
Bohs also have to come to an arrangement with the remaining contracted players and talks were still ongoing last night, but the majority of the squad have told the club they will accept a redundancy package which will see them tear up their contracts in exchange for a severance payment of 13 weeks' pay.
The Gypsies raised the cash needed to fund the redundancy package with loans from members and other investors but the club insisted all along that, under the terms of the loans, the cash could only be released if an agreement was in place with all players.
Some of those players would then be in a position to re-sign for Bohs next season on a new contract -- although on drastically reduced terms -- with a new wage cap put in place at the club.
"We made good progress yesterday and we're hopeful that we can work something out," said a source close to the players. "No one wants to see Bohs go out of business and no one wants this to end up in court, but the club have to take the players seriously and hopefully we can finish this off next week."
Eight members of last season's squad have already left the club: Conor Powell (Colchester) and Paul Keegan (Doncaster) are with clubs in England and both are hopeful of making their debuts for their new clubs today, while Aaron Greene is expected to sign for Peterborough United next week.
Jason Byrne and Mark Quigley both signed for Dundalk while Killian Brennan, Mark Rossiter, Jason McGuinness and Anto Murphy are free agents.
Shelley and Gray are expected to formally end their ties with Bohs if they can agree a deal next week. That leaves Owen Heary, Ken Oman, Paddy Madden, Chris O'Connor, Barry Murphy and Glenn Cronin -- currently out with a long-term injury -- as players technically still under contract, but some of them may opt to stay on at the club next season.
The next challenge for Bohs will be to placate manager Pat Fenlon, who has been frustrated with the situation -- and the dismal PR received by the club -- since the cash crisis was made public in November.
For the last number of years, Bohs have spent this part of the year on a warm-weather training camp in Spain, but the pre-season programme for 2011 saw the players forced to use Dalymount Park for training sessions because the club simply can't afford to hire anywhere else to train.