THE Republic of Ireland’s eve of departure to the World Cup finals in Italy was rocked by a controversy over money.
On this day 30 years ago a disagreement between the players and the FAI was flung wide open into the public domain.
The players, who were to share £400,000 on reaching the finals of the globe’s most famous tournament for the first time, denied they were greedy.
Players’ spokesman, Kevin Moran, claimed the dispute, which centred on what the players should get for the 13 games they played in over the last two years, would affect the team’s performances in Italy.
Admitting they were bitterly disappointed over the row, Moran said that money wasn’t the motivating factor for the players.
“It is never a question of money when you are representing your country and to say so is absolute rubbish,” he said.
The players want a £1,000 per for each of the games — eight of them competitive — but FAI treasurer Charlie Walsh said that if the players’ demands were met in full, it would bankrupt the association.
The FAI were prepared to pay the players £500 for each competitive game and £300 for each friendly.
In addition to either sharing in the £400,000 or getting 25% of the association’s gross share from Italy, whichever is the greater, the 22 players in the squad would get £5,000 a man for each of the early qualifying games.
And that figure would jump to £10,000 if they went on to qualify for the knock-out stages.
But, Moran, who together with Ray Houghton, Frank Stapleton, and Liam Brady form the players’ pool committee, said they considered the £1,000 fee reasonable.
For all the four home qualifying games they had received a match fee of £250 while the FAI had netted a minimum of £1.5m.
In three recent friendlies the players had received £150 each while the association had taken in £1m in gate receipts.
The players issued a statement in which they denied being greedy and, in line with manager Jack Charlton’s request, had postponed pay negotiations until after they had qualified for the finals.
Now they found themselves in the ‘embarrassing position’ of having to issue a statement on bonus payments just ‘two days’ before their departure for Italy.
Both parties blamed the other. The players claimed that the association, following on from negotiations the previous week, was to contact their representative, Fintan Drury, but this hadn’t happened.
Moran accused the FAI of ‘dragging out’ the matter to the last possible moment.
Meanwhile, the mind games between Charlton and England boss, Bobby Robson, began in earnest ahead of the opening game between the neighbours.
“We have the best midfielders in these islands,” declared Charlton, who had his side primed for the June 11 meeting.
“All you have to do is look at Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Paul McGrath and Kevin Sheedy.
“And what about Andy Townsend, who we have made into a great player?
“I mean Chelsea are prepared to pay £1m for him after the finals and Andy has only just come on the international scene.
“Alan McLoughlin of Swindon Town is another player I am very keen on. And since we unearthed him for the Republic he’s suddenly worth over £1m quid too."
In their final warm-up game before heading for Italy, England’s 17-game unbeaten streak ended in a 2-1 defeat by Uruguay at Wembley, their first loss in six years at the venue.
“We are itching to get another crack off England and hopefully it will be like Stuttgart all over again even though both teams are that little bit more experienced now,” Charlton added.