FAI's director of competitions Fran Gavin has defended the organisation’s role in the Bray Wanderers saga and said the league is in a better place since club licencing was introduced.

The PFAI today accused the governing body of Irish football of lacking energy to solve the problems that have arisen at Bray, with a message of "it is just not good enough any more".

Gavin revealed the FAI have been trying to fix an "internal issue" in the club which has supposedly led to the financial problems.

He told RTÉ Sport: "We're working behind the scenes to resolve the problem and the issue with Bray.

"We can understand the frustration of the players, absolutely understand it. It's not acceptable that the club has not honoured its commitments. We're working continuously and have been for several weeks to resolve this issue to ensure that the players get paid.

"It can be [solved], with the goodwill of everybody. That is what we're trying to do. That is an ongoing process at the moment. We're giving all our energy and focus into getting this issue resolved. It's not acceptable."

The much-maligned licencing system has again been called into question over this issue, with PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness saying the process has let down players this year.

Gavin reiterated that it is an independent decision to award any club a licence.

He stated: "The independent licencing committee give out the licences. It's separate from ourselves and the FAI. We deal with what comes out of that meeting, that clubs have licences, whether it's Premier or First Division.

"The licencing has worked for several years since its introduction. The league is in a better place because of club licencing. The vast majority of our clubs are in a better place because of club licencing and the hard work of the people in the clubs.

"That's the volunteers and the full-time staff.

"The PFAI have come out several times to say they are supporters of club licencing. It's a snapshot of the club at the time. They have fulfilled all of their commitments under club licencing and that is quite stringent.

"At the start of the season, there is no way you can guarantee player wages at any club, and I don't know any league in Europe that does that, from the start of the season to the end of the season.

"The situation we have at Bray Wanderers is there has been serious issues internally in the club and we're trying to resolve them. The outcome is these players not being paid.  Again, it's not acceptable, and we're working extremely hard to resolve the issue."

The league director was unwilling to offer any idea of what punishments would be incurred if the strike went ahead, but the notion could also raise its head at Limerick amid financial problems at the Markets Field, even if it is solved at Bray.

Again, Gavin has said the FAI is trying to deal with that. .

"Any issues concerning player wages is a concern to the Association. I've been involved with players and the Association for several years now. I've been on both sides of the fence. It's extremely important for us. It's a priority for us.

"We're in discussions with Limerick as well to make sure the club thrives and continues to have senior football in Limerick and give a platform to the best players in the Limerick and surrounding area, but [also to] make sure that if clubs enter into commitments with the players that they must honour those commitments.

"Unfortunately it reflects badly on the league overall when we have a lot of hugely positive stuff around the league happening, whether it's performances in Europe, the battle between Dundalk and Cork in the league, about attendances being up, or the underage leagues.

"They are all hugely positive. This issue around player salaries is a concern to us but we are giving it our full priority to resolve it."


McGuinness, meanwhile, has been extremely critical of the way the league has tackled the problems.

He has claimed the body that represents the players has struggled to secure a face-to-face meeting with FAI officials for well over a month. 

He said: "Unfortunately players found themselves having to pay for their own operations which is something you never want to see. Whatever about wages, but to have players with serious injuries, that was real alarm bells.

"I contacted the FAI on 7 June to start discussions about issues that are around the league.

"Unfortunately it took a fair while for the FAI to get into dialogue with us. I only eventually met with the FAI yesterday having requested a meeting with them over seven times which was disappointing.

"I think you have to speak to the FAI over why it took so long for the representative body of the players to take that amount of time to discuss it. We could see the issues coming.

"Operations not being carried out is hugely worrying and for the rest of the players in the squad at the time, the reluctance to play and train was starting to creep in.

"You would be hopeful the club could work the FAI and come up a resolution to the situation we're in. We don't want to be in this position.

"We don't want to be on a picket in the Carlisle Grounds. The players have shown huge patience and I think enough is enough. It is time for change."

McGuinness wants to see a new approach from the FAI to the league, saying "the top" of the organisation is "not right".

He added that the licencing process has simply not worked in his view.

"It is just not good enough any more," he told RTÉ Sport’s Tony O’Donoghue.

"Aside from this, we need to have something in place where this doesn't happen again. We need to get through this obviously and work with the FAI and club to resolve this. But we cannot find ourselves in this position again.

"This is hugely damaging to the league, considering the amount of good will towards it. We have teams from Under-19s to now Under-13s coming and players aspiring to play in it. We have to have it right at the top. I think it's not right at the top.

"People within the FAI, at the very top of the game in Ireland, need to take a serious look at where the league is going.

"I hope this focuses minds. I just don't see the energy within the FAI to work with us or with this issue. I have correspondents saying they are working with the club. Well, what are they doing? That is what the players are asking. The primary issue is with the club. That is where the contracts are.

"But the FAI and club licencing sanctioned these contracts. They believed everything was alright. The players feel hugely let down by the club, but hugely let down by club licencing. A tool which last year protected them has this year left them wide open."