The 2018 League of Ireland season has been officially plunged into crisis. A players' strike at Bray Wanderers is now inevitable after the club missed an FAI deadline to pay their missing wages, sparking action from the FAI.
A second club is headed in the same direction, as the players at Limerick FC, just above Bray in the Premier Division table, will ballot on strike action today as they have also been forced to go without wages. The FAI were in crisis talks with Limerick last night and will meet Bray officials again today.
The players' representative body, the PFAI, criticised the lack of communication from Bray chairman Gerry Mulvey, but also the FAI.
"We tried to contact Gerry Mulvey and unfortunately we couldn't contact him. With the FAI, we requested seven meetings which didn't come to fruition until last Thursday when I met with Fran Gavin," PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness told RTE.
"We requested a meeting yesterday for an update, but unfortunately Fran was too busy to meet."
Bray's next game, away to Bohemians on Friday, will go ahead, but the FAI face the nightmare of the players taking strike action and refusing to play for their game at home to Cork City on Friday week.
The FAI's options were limited: given the club have been unable to pay wages for two months, punishing them with a fine makes no sense and docking points would have major implications on the title race, especially if Limerick go down the same route.
The association said last night they have taken action against Bray, kicking them out of the Irn-Bru Cup, a Scottish-based competition involving Irish clubs, and Bray have also been banned from signing any more players.
But the PFAI demand that the FAI's club licencing system is looked at.
"Licencing has been under scrutiny over the weekend. From a players' union perspective it has been a tool to get players paid and it has assisted, but there are gaps and problems," added McGuinness.
"If we want to make this better, people have to come out and acknowledge there are problems. You can't fix a problem if you don't acknowledge there is one. There are gaps that have to be closed off.
"When we get through this, there needs to be serious discussions with players' representatives, the clubs and the FAI to ensure we don't ever find ourselves in this situation again."