The eircom League of Ireland First Division will have a new look to it after confirmation today that it has lost one of its key members and will gain a new member ahead of the new season.
Kilkenny City, proud members of the league since their election in 1985, have confirmed that the club is to fold after succumbing to the pressures of growing financial difficulties over the past number of years.
Their place is now expected to be offered to fledgling Dublin club Sporting Fingal, who were the highest placed team in the recent IAG process for the A Championship.
A statement posted on the FAI website on behalf of the club, read: 'Following much discussion and soul searching it is the opinion of those closest to Kilkenny City Football Club that the club should resign its membership of the eircom League of Ireland due to lack of finance and inadequate support.
'We have battled hard over the years to win the hearts and minds of the local people but sadly, due to lack of finance, poor results and paltry attendances, we have to admit that there is not an appetite for senior soccer at this moment in our city and county.
'We believe that we are taking the correct decision in the best interests of Kilkenny City FC and the game of soccer.
'We thank those who have supported us since our election to the League of Ireland in 1985 and if circumstances change we will consider reapplying for membership of the League in the future.
'The Board of Kilkenny City FC would also like to express its thanks to the FAI for its support and advice over the years and will shortly engage in discussions with them regarding the future path of Kilkenny City Football Club.'
The statement concluded: 'In the short-term our energies will be channelled into the organisation of next month’s Under-17 international between the Republic of Ireland and Finland at our Buckley Park grounds and we look forward to being considered for more games of this type in the future.'
Reacting to the decision of Kilkenny City to resign from the eircom League of Ireland, Director Fran Gavin, said:
'Kilkenny City’s decision to resign is based on practicalities. They do not have sufficient people on board to meet the demands now being placed on clubs in an effort to raise standards throughout the league.
'When the FAI took over the running of the League we said that there would be a realignment as the demands on clubs to adhere to higher standards increased and this is an example of this.
'Kilkenny City were a well run club. They had very good facilities at Buckley Park and managed their finances prudently but they had reached a crossroads. After a period of reflection they decided that they didn’t want to push on to the next level and I fully understand that and compliment them for their honesty.
'The objective of the Football Association of Ireland is to create a League of Ireland that contains well run clubs, living within their means and offering the best possible facilities to players, officials, spectators, sponsors and media. I have no doubt that other clubs will arrive at the same crossroads as Kilkenny and face the same questions and I hope they answer them as honestly as Kilkenny have.'
Gavin concluded: 'The vacancy that now exists in the eircom League of Ireland First Division will be offered to the highest placed team in the recent IAG process for the A Championship, which is Sporting Fingal.'
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