Monaghan United withdraw from League of Ireland

Derry's Ruaidhri Higgins tussles for the ball with Jason Marks
Derry's Ruaidhri Higgins tussles for the ball with Monaghan's Jason Marks

Monaghan United have announced their withdrawal from the League of Ireland.

The Premier Division side, who are three points adrift at the bottom of the table, cited a number of reasons for opting out of senior football.

"The reason we have taken this decision is mainly, but not only financial," read a statement issued by the club.

FAI officials have responded quickly meeting on Monday and taking a decision to remove the points that had been available in Monaghan's games.

As a result of the changes to the league table, Sligo Rovers' lead at the top of the table over St Patrick's Athletic has been increased from six to seven points.

Shamrock Rovers also drop a further point behind Sligo to eight in arrears but the quirks of the fixtures keep Derry the same 10 points adrift of the leaders.

Both Sligo and Derry lose the three points that they took from their wins over Monaghan while St Pat's and Shamrock Rovers had both earned four points from their two games against the club.

"This decision was a hard one and not taken lightly but it was felt that this was the only real option left to us at this time," Monaghan's statement continued.

"To keep a team playing at the highest level in this country is expensive and with the club's inability to tie down an anchor sponsor, coupled with the rising costs of membership of senior football and the lack of support from the national league, it was felt that no other option was available.

"However this is in no way the end of Monaghan United - in fact it is a new beginning, a new direction has been chosen by the club, and it is our intention to pour all our energy, experience and facilities into the development of football in the county of Monaghan.

"Monaghan United will sit down with all of its members and interested parties to explore how best to achieve this."

The FAI has been caught by surprise by Monaghan's decision.

Airtricity League director Fran Gavin said that the FAI had held discussions with Monaghan a month ago and "at that time there was absolutely no question of withdrawing from the League".

"Today's announcement from Monaghan United is a surprise to us and is very disappointing," said Gavin.

A statement from the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland said that "many players first heard that they had lost their jobs through Twitter".