Long: We need cash to fund Euro dream
Bohs safe for 2018 but boss has budget fears
Keith Long believes that Bohemians will only be capable of challenging for honours again if the club manages to get the financial backing needed to bridge the gap.
While one outcome of the Gypsies' 0-0 draw at home to Cork City on Friday night was a delay in the coronation of the Munster side as champions of Ireland, the result also confirmed top flight status for next season for a Bohs side who flirted with relegation at times this term.
Safety secured, Bohs can now try to catch Bray Wanderers for a top-five finish, though European qualification is now out of the question, the Phibsboro absent from Europe since 2012.
Boss Long feels that the 2017 season has been a success but, aware that some of his top players will be in demand from clubs in Ireland and the UK over the close season, he feels that the club need to increase the playing budget if they are to aim higher than a mid-table finish.
"It's been a pleasing season relatively speaking, the players have worked extremely hard and got their rewards," Long told The Herald.
"We haven't been as consistent as we'd have liked through the campaign but that comes with experience, a lot of our players will have learned a lot this year and we will be the better for that.
"Premier Division safety was always our goal. After the St Pats game (3-2 win in September) we were looking up the table a bit, then we had the disappointing defeat to Sligo last week so that put paid to it.
"We could still possibly win our next two games but it's been a successful season, we have avoided the dreaded drop and haven't really been in deep relegation trouble, like some of the teams below us and a few clubs would like to be in our position right now."
Long has some of his squad signed up for next season, as Warren O'Hora, Fuad Sule and Oscar Brennan are contracted until 2018. However, Sule (20) and O'Hora (18) have already been tracked by cross-channel clubs and may be the subject of offers, while Dundalk have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bohs keeper Shane Supple.
And Ismahil Akinade, who missed the first half of the season following surgery on his spleen, will also be a target for clubs here.
Even if Sule and O'Hora are sold, Long does not expect that to yield a windfall to fund a team for next year. "If we do lose players, I don't think any player sales will drastically affect the budget," he says.
"As a club we need to look at different revenue streams, to generate income. We're no different to other clubs and recruitment is key, it's the difference between challenging and being mid-table.
"If we got a bit of investment, more financial clout behind us as a club, I think we could bridge the gap, possibly attain a European position next year, and that would be the intention.
"But it would be difficult as it stands due to the current restrictions.
"We can build for next year: with investment. We want to retain our best players but also add to that, bring in good players to make us stronger but that will requite investment.
"The structures at the club are restrictive in terms of finance so we have to explore all avenues over the next while to see if we can improve things, to incentivise players to come to this club."
Meanwhile, Stephen Bradley is pleased that his Shamrock Rovers outfit have secured a Europa League place despite a 1-1 draw with Sligo Rovers.
"It's great we have European football but I felt we did enough to win the game," he said. "We should have been more ruthless in front of goal and we tired late on."
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