PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness joined Nathan Murphy on The Football Show this evening to give an overview of what the minimum wage contracts that are going to be introduced into the League of Ireland will involve.
An announcement during the week that men’s senior professional players in the League of Ireland are to be entitled to a minimum of €430 per week from next season has sparked a debate among football fans as to the development of the Premier Division and the First Division in this country, although there may still be quite a ways to go according to PFAI general secretary, Stephen McGuinness.
Citing that there are “lots” of amateur players still sprinkled around both leagues, it would potentially be a shock to LOI fans that “there’s an amateur player going to play in the cup final” this Sunday between Shelbourne and Derry City and that it possible “wasn’t his choice.”
“Like in a lot of clubs around the country this would be a young player coming through the ranks who was amateur all the way and then breaks into the first team and there’s an, oh, now we want to offer you something. He wasn’t on something earlier” said McGuinness.
“That’s insane” said Nathan Murphy.
“That’s the league of Ireland,” responded McGuiness.
While the transfer conditions of a player are under the club’s will if they were to sign a contract, that is not what is at play in this instance according to McGuinness, however the fact that this is a reality is a real marker as to where the league needs to grow.
“It doesn’t matter whether he’s amateur or pro because there will still be compensation on him either way. If he signs a contract then the club have control on him obviously, if they don’t there’s still training compensation due on him up to a quarter of a million euro.
“I think it’s 1965 since the last amateur played in the Premier League in England, so that tells you. We’ve amateur players playing in the Premier Division of the league of Ireland.
“What we would like to see Nathan is that after a certain number of games that the player has to become professional, but there’s a huge resistance from the clubs for that.”
While McGuinness “sees the benefits from it”, he points out that clubs still have a bit of wariness around becoming an automatic professional after a stated number of games but that “these are the discussions [they’re] having.”
“The FAI dictate to you what qualifications your manager should have and how many seats you have, if we want to grow a professional league here there needs to be these parameters. In my opinion to play in the Premier Division there should be 15 professional players or else you can’t get in.
“Every single player that plays in the League of Ireland wants to be professional…all we’ve done in the last couple of days is give them a platform to start from.”