Less than forty-eight hours after Bray Wanderers chairman, Denis O’Connor delivered a gob-smacking interview to RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue, in which the businessman stated that despite fact he was unable to safely say there was a future for Bray Wanderers that players would still be paid, the PFAI have this morning tweeted the astonishing news that players at the Wicklow club “have been advised money only to cover next week & they can all speak to new clubs about leaving.” This worrying and rapid announcement, while perhaps no surprise to some, is a sharp u-turn by the Wanderers chief.
Whispers of discontent had continually surfaced throughout the season among supporters of the league on social media, with attendances at the clubs Carlise Grounds clearly not high enough to sustain what was a greatly increased playing budget this season. Speaking to Tony O’Donoghue during that Soccer Republic exclusive, O’Connor made is clear the hierarchy at Bray had made a conscious decision at the end of last season to increase the resources on offer to manager Harry Kenny. The boards hope was that an influx of big name signings and a natural improvement on results and league position would result in higher attendances at the Carlise Ground. However, with that failing to materialise, the first real sign of cracks began to appear at half-time during Friday’s 3-0 defeat to LOI champions Dundalk, as Bray Wanderers released a bizarre statement which ended with the now ominous line of “what’s the point” in regard to the lack of local support for the club.
Naturally, Bray’s half-time statement brought with it a social media backlash from fans all across the LOI, with many raising the question of how the County Wicklow side could pass FAI licensing and already appear to be in financial trouble, just half-way through the 2017 season. This mornings mini-statement from the PFAI only throws fuel to the fire in that regard, with the investigation into suspicious betting patterns at First Division club, Athlone Town still to be resolved by the powers that be.
All of this comes in the wake of a week where Bray have already been in the headlines with former manager Mick Cooke reaching a settlement arising from his departure as manager last season, while star asset Dylan Connolly was sold to Dundalk FC for a reported sum in the region of €40,000.
With Bray Wanderers currently occupying the final European qualification place in the league table, this mornings news comes as a real blow to supporters of the club, who for years had been more accustomed to relegation battles than assaults on the top reaches of Irish football. With high profile names such as Aaron Greene and Gary McCable playing some of their best football in years since arriving at the Carlise Ground, it is likely their services will be highly sought after with the July transfer window now open.