Sporting Fingal have confirmed that they have withdrawn their application for a licence to participate in the upcoming 2011 Airtricity League season.
The club have failed in recent days to secure the funding needed for the new season with Fingal's 13 contracted players having had their contracts terminated yesterday. The club also pulled out of the Setanta Sports Cup on Wednesday, with UCD taking their place.
Founded in 2007, the club soon reached miraculous heights under the backing of Gerry Gannon after gaining entry into the League of Ireland in 2008. Having been promoted to the Premier Division for 2010 after defeating Bray Wanderers in a 2009 play-off, Fingal also went on to win the FAI Cup in 2009, defeating Sligo Rovers 2-1.
Promotion to the Premier Division last year went well for the club too, as they finished 4th and qualified for the Europa League. However, when it became clear that Gannon would not be funding the club after intervention from NAMA, Fingal were evidently struggling to keep out of the red.
Despite pleas for new backers, a promising sponsorship deal did not materialise and the club have been forced to dissolve with immediate effect.
"I am devastated for all involved with Sporting Fingal, players, staff, fans, volunteers, directors, that we have been forced to bring the Sporting Fingal project to a premature end", Liam Buckley, first team manager and Director of Football said.
"Finding a replacement for our supportive backer was always going to be a major challenge but we were pleased with the progress made. Sadly, the suddenness and timing of last week's sponsorship set-back sent us back to the drawing board, a predicament we were simply unable to overcome so close to the season kick-off.
"Our success on the pitch, especially winning the 2009 FAI Ford Cup and participating in last year's UEFA Europa League, was testament to the dedication and resilience of the players," Buckley added
The FAI confirmed Sporting's withdrawal from the league at 7pm on Thursday: "The Football Association of Ireland has received official communication from Sporting Fingal FC that the club wishes to withdraw its application for a club licence for 2011," a statement read.
"The FAI will await the outcome of the independent club licencing committee before nominating a replacement club to take Sporting Fingal’s place in the Premier Division of the Airtricity League.
"Further information regarding the structure of the Airtricity League will be issued upon receipt of the deliberations of the independent club licencing committee."
That structure is scheduled to be announced on February 15 when the committee are set to announce the licencing awards for 2011. While Drogheda United would be the first club to go back, it is unclear whether they will receive a Premier Division licence after their own financial difficulties.
If not, it is believed that Fingal's place in the top tier will go to either Monaghan United or Waterford United, while it is rumoured that Cobh Ramblers could become the 22nd team in the Airticity League, making their return to the First Division if awarded a licence.