Cork City boss Fenn can't see League of Ireland working behind closed doors

Cork City boss Fenn can't see League of Ireland working behind closed doors
Cork City head coach Neale Fenn before the opening game of the season back in February. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

CORK CITY manager Neale Fenn can’t wait to get back to work but doesn’t believe that any proposals that have been suggested so far are feasible.

Fenn believes that playing games behind closed doors or at a neutral venue might suit some clubs in the league but the majority would be against it. 

Right now the core of the teams aren't allowed back until late June, with a four-team tournament before then featuring the teams qualified for Europe. No structure has been revealed for a full League of Ireland return.

“I’m the same as everyone else, I can’t wait for the return of football but under the right circumstances,” Fenn said.

“As Cork City manager, I don’t think there has been a proposal I’ve seen that would make it sufficient for the league to resume.

“Playing games behind closed doors is not suitable. The club rely a lot on the match day revenue and have to have supporters at the games and I’m sure we aren’t the only club that feel like that.

“Playing in a neutral venue and travelling up and down to somewhere like Dublin every week, I wouldn’t think would work either.I know the PFAI are doing all they can to get the league to resume and look after players so that they are not out of work, I just think the costs are too high.

“It’s ok, for the English, German and Spanish leagues to try and get football going again because they can afford it but our league does not have that sort of money. Clubs like Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, have said they are in favour of the proposals. 

"I think that’s more to do with them being in Europe but reading reports that their places in Europe could be in jeopardy could change their opinion and they might not be in as much of a rush to resume.”

The former Longford manager, also believes that player’s welfare is not being considered and that there is too much pressure on players to return under these extraordinary circumstances.

“I think it’s very unfair on the players to ask them to go back out onto the pitch when it is not safe to do so.

“How can it be fair to say to a player that on Friday night you can go play a match and come into contact with a lot of people but then on Saturday, if you go into a supermarket, you have to social distance. I just don’t see how that is ok.”

With the uncertainty of when the season can resume, the City boss has targeted September as the soonest return date for matches and has had to alter his player’s training programs and lessen their work.

“Originally June 19 was the return date for the league, so Joe (Gamble) and I, had the players on a very strict and intense training program.

“Unfortunately, June 19 is no longer possible so we are now looking at games resuming later in the summer.

“We have had to go from telling the lads to work extremely hard and be ready for a June start to making them ease off because September is a long way off and we don’t want players over-working,” Fenn said.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With the summer transfer window approaching Fenn has admitted that he has already spoken to his assistant about possible targets and is contact with the clubs in England about the possibility of the players (Joseph Olowu, Deshane Dalling, Kyron Stabana, Joseph Redmond) who were on-loan at the club before the suspension of the league, about the possibility of them returning if the league were to resume.

“We cancelled the contracts of the players that were on-loan at the club. It didn’t make sense for the club to keep paying them when there are no matches.

“We have spoken to to Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Birmingham and Wimbledon about possibilities in the future and in fairness those clubs have been very understanding and have been good to us.

“I was just speaking to Joe today about other possible signings. I’m always on the lookout for good players.

“Of course, with the uncertainty in football at the moment, I’m not sure how the transfer window is going to work.

“I suspect UEFA are going to have to move the dates on it but identifying what players might be available is something I’ve been working.”

If the league does resume, then Fenn has admitted he has another challenge on his hands as he could return with a different squad.

After working so hard to try and implement his ideas with the current squad over the preseason, the City boss feels it’s going to be difficult to get his team going again.

“If we return, we could have four or five new faces in the team and it will feel like we are starting all over again.

“I thought we have a difficult set of fixtures at the beginning of the season but we were definitely starting to improve.

“It’s going to feel like a new start if we do return and it’s going to make it that little bit more difficult,” Fenn admitted.

While players have been keeping themselves busy with their programs, Fenn has been concentrating on his Pro Licence.

“I’ve just been doing work on my Pro Licence trying to complete the course. Our exit interviews for the course were meant to be this month but I assume that will be postponed.

“Once that interview is complete then I will have finished the course.”

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