{mosimage} 17 December ~ Bad news and Irish businesses seem to go hand in hand these days and yet another tale of misfortune and mismanagement has left League of Ireland Premier Division club Galway United joining the ranks of those queuing for a bailout. Galway United’s CEO, the famous Rogue Trader Nick Leeson, has previous for this, having spent the early 1990s bringing down Barings Bank by running up debts of £827 million. In the unlikely event that Ewan McGregor fancies reprising his role as Leeson, a sequel to his 1999 film could contain scenes such as United’s star striker, the promising Karl Sheppard, revealing to local papers that, having received no wages for four consecutive weeks, his fridge now contains nothing but pasta.

A season spent battling relegation, combined with rising ticket prices, has seen United’s average attendance fall to 870. Meanwhile, a structural reshuffle means that two new Galway-based sides, Mervue United and Salthill Devon, have been introduced into the League of Ireland in the past two years. Though Mervue and Salthill have spent their new-found senior status jostling for the bottom tier’s bottom place, in front of double-digit crowds, their arrival has had a clear off-the-field impact on United. The increased competition for income – either from sponsorship or from traditional community fundraising methods, such as club lotteries – is now split three ways in a city that with a similar, or lower, urban population than one-club towns such as Cork, Derry and Limerick.

But there is hope for United. The Galway United Supporters’ Trust (GUST) has become increasingly involved in the propping the club up and called an emergency meeting of its members in late November, to begin to address concerns about the club’s future. GUST claim that debts have run as high as €70,000 (£59,700), though the board have unofficially indicated the figure to be in the region of €35,000 to €40,000. Leeson and his board of directors retain control of the club but the growing strength of the GUST has indicated that football fans in Galway may be ready to follow the lead of current champions Shamrock Rovers and take matters into their own hands. In the meantime, I wonder if the IMF would mind adding one more thing to their list. Aidan Bonner

Comments (5)
Comment by Duncan Gardner 2010-12-17 13:10:37

"a city that with a similar, or lower, urban population than one-club towns such as Cork, Derry and Limerick"

Derry isn't a one-club town.

Comment by Aidan Bonner 2010-12-17 13:44:43

Yes, my mistake. My sincere apologies to all Stute fans.

Comment by Aidan Bonner 2010-12-17 15:10:31

Galway United released a press statement today:

"Following detailed discussions over the last 3 weeks and with the assistance of an independent mediator, representatives of Galway United Football Club Ltd (GUFC) and Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST) have reached a comprehensive agreement to work together to strengthen Galway United Football Club on and off the field in the coming months and years.

The agreement will lead to many positive changes at the club and the people of Galway will continue to have a club that they may be justifiably proud of. GUFC and GUST wish to wholeheartedly thank the independent mediator and the Manager, Team and supporters of Galway United."

At the moment, it looks like GUST representatives could be joining the board.

Comment by madmickyf 2010-12-20 02:52:50

Why on earth would you employ Nick Leeson? Were the other candidates for the position Mr Ponzi and Mr Madoff?

Comment by 1895 2010-12-20 06:06:35

While Salthill and Mervue may have stepped up into the LoI, the clubs were already existed and were already in competition with Galway United for sponsorship and fundraising.

As GUFC don't have any fixed assets, they can go out of existence and then set up new debt free clubs and buy the name of the old club. Then, like Limerick, Cork and Derry, just pretend you are the same club.

This attitude is the John Delaney endorsed way of driving down Irish football's debts. I bet he wished he could do the same with the FAI's huge debts.

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