‘I’m still in shock that we weren’t allowed into Europe’ – Waterford FC owner calls on fans to rally behind Blues
The owner of Waterford FC says if the city wants a successful football team it’s down to the people here to get behind them but admits the FAI and UEFA’s decision to block the blues participation in European football took the wind out of the clubs sails in more ways than one.
Lee Power (47), a former professional footballer and Irish underage international became the owner of Waterford FC in late 2016. Stories circulated last year the Lee was about to walk away from the club and in an interview with THE42.ie, he admitted it was a thought but decided to commit to the club.
He now is calling on the folk of Waterford to show their commitment once more and try to get Waterford back to challenge for that European spot so cruelly ripped away from the club less than a year ago.
“I don’t think it would have happened in any other country,” Power told The42 about that decision to replace Waterford FC with St Patrick’s Athletic for the European campaign for the 2019 season.
“I’m still in shock that we weren’t allowed to take our place in Europe.
“Our head of finance spends six months dealing every day with the FAI and Uefa, and then to be told a week before, it’s because you haven’t been going for three years, they knew about that before they even started.
“Why come over and have two site visits if we ain’t going to be able to participate? It was a ridiculous excuse.
“It wouldn’t have happened to a Dublin club, that’s for sure. And it’s not a surprise that it was a Dublin club that took our place.”
Power is still fuming over the call, a call that affected the bottom line – finance. Power admits his investment is not running into millions. The decision by UEFA and the FAI seriously affected his model and saw Waterford FC lose an international sponsor
“There are still no answers. All we get is: ‘Well, that’s the situation.’ And it’s cost me tens of thousands to try to get some answers. I just wanted to know the truth — obviously that can’t be the reason [the three-year rule]. There have been precedents set before us. Other teams in the same situations have been allowed to [compete].
“That’s the downside of Irish football and probably the state that it’s in at the moment.
“Not for me just financially, but to all the supporters, the staff that worked so hard, to take that away from them I thought was disgraceful.”
Power is slowly coming to terms with the decision and told the42.ie he did consider walking away. He says the changes that have been enforced on the FAI made up his mind to stay, and he now hopes the Waterford support will back his decision to stay and come back to the RSC like they did in the 2018 season and the blues run to Europe.
“There was a lot of talk that I was going to pull out this year because of that — I did give it some thought. But there are changes being made and different things being spoken about and I’ve decided to roll the dice again.
“My hope is that the people in the city and the county of Waterford come and support the team. I’ve just gone there to spend… Well millions now actually in getting it to where it is.
“The disappointing bit last season were the attendances towards the end — it’s down to the city if they want to support the team. I’ve done my bit. Rennie’s (Alan Reynolds) done his bit.
Waterford boss Alan Reynolds committed his future to the club at the end of last
“If you support a team, you need to support it through thick and thin. I think everyone was so let down by the Uefa decision that it caused a real dampener at the club. I’m hoping that was the reason and everyone’s geared to come back out this season. Fundamentally, if they don’t, there’s only one thing that happens to a football club.”