Last Saturday, the FAI confirmed that they were charging Athlone Town FC for offences regarding bringing the game into disrepute, in relation to match-fixing.
The club released a lengthy statement earlier this morning, totaling almost 2,000 words, in which they dealt with the accusations levelled against them from the media and the FAI. After what must've been a turbulent week, they came out swinging against the governing body:
The club has grave concerns about the FAI’s decision to charge two players under Rule 99, namely bringing the game into disrepute, Rule 105 manipulating match results, and Rule 106 betting/gambling.
This is because we believe the FAI lacks the investigative abilities or resources to enable it to find evidence (if any existed), to support the most serious of allegations being made against the club.
The Midlanders went on to say to question the independence of the investigation:
It also amazes us that the process is deemed to be independent when the Football Association of Ireland are the investigative authority, the prosecutor, and the tribunal determining the issues.
We also do not accept that their evidence can be considered as being independent.
The club does not wish to impugn the reputation or integrity of any individual but we believe that the members of the panel of experts appointed by the FAI, are too close to the entity conducting the investigation.
The reason for that, according to Athlone, was due to one of the experts being interviewed for the manager's job:
We can confirm that strong lobbing took place by officials of the FAI to the executive of the club requesting that we consider the appointment of one of the three experts to the vacant managerial position on two occasions.
Accordingly, we believe that in the interests of natural justice, fairness and transparency that the individual concerned should have excused himself from involvement in the process.
The perception of bias alone clouds any opinion which he has tendered in respect of the issues under scrutiny.
The club finishes off the statement by claiming that the matter should've been put in the hands of An Garda Siochána or another police authority and not the FAI's.
It's an extremely strong statement on a day when the FAI will already be reacting to the Bray Wanderers players putting themselves on the transfer list.
This certainly won't be the last we hear of the situation.