Waterford FC have released a strong statement after they were denied a licence to compete in European competition for the 2019/20 season.
Their Europa League spot was instead awarded to St. Patrick’s Athletic due to Uefa’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations. Uefa state that club's "membership and the contractual relationship (if any) must have lasted – at the start of the licence season – for at least three consecutive years."
Waterford United were taken over by Chairman and Owner Lee Power in 2017 and rebranded as Waterford FC.
In a statement released today, Power expressed his shock at the news and was particularly critical of the FAI.
Everyone at Waterford FC are deeply shocked and saddened at the news that we have been expelled from playing in the Europa League this season. We feel we have been totally misled by the FAI and were given assurances throughout this five-month process by them that the licence would be granted. We also had club visits by UEFA Delegates during this period of which no issues were raised.
As a club, we entered into substantial commercial agreements and invested heavily again into the team and also budgeted for the qualification money due in November. This will now have a serious financial impact on the club going forward.
The circumstances to which this decision has been made and the events over the last week are unclear and dubious, bearing in mind representations made to us and assurances given.
We will be asking for a full investigation into the FAI handling of this matter.
I have instructed my UK Lawyers to lodge an immediate appeal with UEFA and will pursue any legal avenue we have with regards to compensation and/or any wrongdoing against a number of parties.
The same regulation has hit League of Ireland clubs in the past, with Derry City also prevented from entering the competition seven years ago.