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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 08:37 GMT
Derry could take Shels Euro place
Owen Heary of Shelbourne
Owen Heary of Shelbourne lifted the 2006 Eircom League title
Shelbourne's demotion to the Eircom League First Division means Derry City could play in next season's Champions League qualifying round.

The FAI's Licensing Committee took the decision to demote the current Eircom League champions on Monday night.

"The Committee decided to withdraw the Premier division licence and to award Shelbourne a first division licence, with conditions," said a statement.

Shelbourne have five days to appeal against the decision.

Derry officials have refused to comment on the issue pending Shelbourne's appeal.

In December, then Shelbourne manager Pat Fenlon quit and moved to Derry City.

Shelbourne pipped Derry to the Premier Division title on goal difference to clinch the place in the Champions League in November which left the Candystripes with a Uefa Cup place.

But the Tolka Park club had run up huge debts and players were not paid for much of last season.

It would be nice to go one step further into the Champions League

Derry City's Darren Kelly

Prior to Monday's decision, Shelbourne officials said they had come up with a financial package which would put the club in a position to make back payments to players, settle its tax debts and also guarantee wages for the upcoming season.

However, it remains to be seen whether the FAI's Licensing Committee's ruling could put now put that package in jeopardy.

If Shelbourne opt not to appeal or lose any appeal, Waterford United would be in line to take their place in the Premier Division.

Fenlon said he was disappointed to hear of Shelbourne's predicament but was reluctant to comment further.

"I spent a long time at the club. It's disappointing for them and hopefully it's resolved quickly," said the Derry manager.

However, Derry player Darren Kelly is excited about the possibility of being involved in Europe's biggest club competition.

"We have a great adventure last year and it would be nice to go one step further into the Champions League," said Kelly.

"Hopefully we can progress and do better than we did last year. There's no reason why not."


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