Sligo Rovers claim League of Ireland format is ‘grossly unfair’

Sligo Rovers have strongly criticised the format of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, when it resumes on July 31st.

The season will be shortened to two rounds of fixtures, the first of which had begun prior to lockdown.

Promotion and relegation will remain intact as before, which means that the bottom-placed team is automatically relegated after 18 games (including the matches already played pre-Covid) with the team that finishes second from bottom involved in a promotion-relegation play-off.

The National League Executive Committee decision has been sent to the board of the FAI for ratification.

Rovers were bottom of the Premier Division table, having played four games and lost all four, when the Covid pandemic struck and the league was halted.

In a club statement on Tuesday evening, Rovers the format decided upone was a particular disappointment to the club

“It is something we sternly object to. We believe it is grossly unfair, unjust and do not see the matter as concluded.”

Listen to Club Treasurer David Rowe’s interview with Newstalk’s Off The Ball here:

It’s emerged that the clubs voted on four possible formats to restart the league.

It’s emerged that all nine clubs in the First Division voted in favour of keeping the current promotion-relegation format going.

Nine of the 10 Premier Division clubs voted against that proposal – the expection being Premier Division leaders Shamrock Rovers who, it’s understood, had the casting vote and went for the current format.

Sligo Rovers say it became clear some time ago that they would be the club hit hardest by the Covid-19 crisis as clubfundraising (€500,000 in 2019) and gate receipts (at highest level in seven years last year) have been decimated. This forms 70% of Rovers annual budget.

Rovers have accepted a financial package, which, they say, till leaves a massive strain on the football club and also required a compromise from all parties involved.

The club’s Supporters Group, the Bit O’ Red Supporters Trust, has set up a GoFundMe page to begin a major fundraising drive, to help get them through the remainder of the season.

Read the Sligo Rovers club statement in full here