The Republic of Ireland Under-21 team will be forced to take five flights for their upcoming European Championship qualifier against Armenia because of the poor state of the FAI’s finances.
When announcing his squad for the games against Armenia and Sweden, Stephen Kenny revealed that the FAI are unable to charter a flight for the team for their trip to Armenia due to the association’s financial crisis.
The Ireland Under-21 manager did not deny that the arduous journey ahead of the squad will be detrimental to their preparations for two important matches. Kenny’s side play in Yerevan next Thursday and Sweden back in Dublin the following Tuesday.
“Resources are very, very tight within the association, particularly at Under-21 level. We’re consistently reminded of that,” Kenny told reporters on Wednesday in Dublin.
The Under-21 squad are set to make a three-leg journey to Armenia. They will fly to London and then Kiev before finally landing in Yerevan, a 10-hour trip that will eat into their preparation time for two crucial matches. The future Ireland senior team manager also said that for European games with Dundalk the club would always charter a private flight for long trips.
“The reality is that chartering a plane would blow the whole year’s budget,” Kenny continued.
“I’m used to going direct. With Dundalk, we’d have always chartered a flight. Getting three flights out to Armenia, and two back before playing Sweden, is not good preparation, it’s not good at all.”
The protracted journey for Kenny’s team lays bare the scale of the FAI’s financial crisis. In 2017, the association reported a turnover of €50m. Yet, they now cannot afford to charter a flight that would cost €100,000.
Ireland Under-21s are currently top of the group. Kenny’s squad will fly back to Dublin through Moscow ahead of their match with Sweden.
Heading into the final camp of 2⃣0⃣1⃣9⃣ 👌
"We're heading into our 11th & 12th matches of the year, it's been an historic year for #IRLU21🇮🇪…"
Stephen Kenny excited to head into Armenia & Sweden matches and discusses new additions to the squad 🙌
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) November 6, 2019