Following UEFA’s decision that Waterford are not eligible to play in this season’s Europa League, chairman and owner Lee Power has alleged that, in their bid to get the necessary European licence, the club was “totally misled” by the FAI.
As well as calling for an investigation into the Association’s handling of the matter, he has also instructed his lawyers to lodge an immediate appeal with UEFA after they informed the FAI that Waterford were not entitled to an exemption from the rule which requires that a club must be in existence for three consecutive years to play in the Champions League and Europa League.
St Patrick’s Athletic, who now stand to replace the Blues in the Europa League, had already written to the FAI protesting that Power’s takeover of Waterford United in late 2016 involved the setting up of a new club under a new name for the 2017 season and that, consequently, the Blues were in breach of UEFA club licensing rules.
A reconstituted Derry City fell foul of the same rule in 2012 and were unable to play in the 2012 Europa League, with Bohemians taking their place. However, as recently as February of this year, FAI Competition Director Fran Gavin expressed confidence that Waterford would meet UEFA’s requirements.
He said then:
With Waterford now standing to miss out on a minimum Europa League participation payment of €240,000, Lee Power issued a strongly worded statement in which he said that the club were “shocked and saddened” at the development. “We feel we have been totally misled by the FAI and were given assurances throughout this five-month process by them that the licence would be granted,” he said.
“We also had club visits by UEFA delegates during this period of which no issues were raised. As a club, we entered into substantial commercial agreements and invested heavily again into the team and also budgeted for the qualification money due in November.”