DUNDALK FC manager Ian Foster says he is is fully behind the decision to retain the current playing budget at its existing level, insisting it is vital that the Lilywhites go into the 2012 season without any debt hanging over the club.
Foster was present at a board meeting on Thursday night where he was told that no funding was available to bring in new faces.
Dundalk fans were hoping that new signings would ease the crippling injury list at Oriel Park but Foster said the club’s board are right to take a long term view of things.
“I said to the board, ‘if you have anything for me that’s great, if not we’ll go with what we’ve got’. Fans might make a little bit more of it because they see how low we are with numbers but that’s an unfortunate part of football.
“I’ve got a budget for March-October, not from March to July and then another one from then until the end of the season. If circumstances dictate that we could add to that in the July transfer window, fantastic, but, the way things are going this season it’s understandable that there won’t be an increase.
“Fans can’t afford to keep paying for games twice a week and travel around the country. I totally understand why the gates have decreased and we’re not the only club in the country where that’s happening.”
The club’s objective is to wipe out the existing debt eating away at the club’s finances and Foster is fully supportive of the planning that has been put in place.
“I said it before but the club needs to be playing off a level playing field and we can’t be laden with debt”, he said. “The club needs to get it’s house in order. It chucked a lot of money around in 2009 and it didn’t particularly work out. Since then the club has been very diligent and I’ve no problem with that.
“I’d rather be at a football club that does things properly rather than worry about whether a player is going to get paid”, he added. “I’ve been at clubs where that happens and it’s not right. There’s none of that here and there’s a decent plan set in place to wipe out the debt and then we’ll see where we are.”
The Liverpudlian also revealed that he has held tentative discussions with the club’s board regarding a new contract. Foster’s two-year-deal runs out at the end of the current campaign and he said he is hoping to pen a new deal soon in order to plan ahead for next season.
“I always try to look and prepare as far ahead as possible”, he said. “It’s difficult at the moment because everybody is out of contract at the end of the season, myself included. Hopefully we can get negotiations started on my contract and that will then enable me to speak to players because June, July and August is when you need to sit players down.
Replacing Michael Hector is Foster’s immediate transfer concern. Dundalk were keen to extend the 18-year-old’s loan deal until the end of the season but a knee injury picked up against Sligo on May 30 means that Hector will be out until August.
Foster has been given the funds freed up from Hector’s departure to bring in a replacement but it may not necessarily be a centre-back.
“I’ve got to jiggle the pack and maybe we’ll look at bringing somebody in a different position to the club. If everyone is fit we have Dean Bennett, Shane Guthrie and Colin Hawkins who can play centre-back so maybe we’ll look at strengthening elsewhere.”
Dundalk are back in action tonight when they travel to Tallaght to face Shamrock Rovers. Kick-off at 8pm. The Lilywhites have had the benefit of eight days rest thanks to last Friday night’s game with Bray Wanderers being postponed which means Dean Bennett and Colin Hawkins should recover from ankle injuries to take their place in the starting XI.
Foster also stated that Stephen Maher could be in line for a place on the bench after coming through 30 minutes in a friendly with Drogheda United on Sunday.
q Bond speaks about financial difficulties facing club. See page 78.