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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Alan McDonald as Glentoran Look Again for a Manager

Belfast Telegraph - Euro licence row sees Roy walking
... and former international ace McDonald's in line to take over

Sunday, May 27, 2007

By Gordon Hanna & Conor McLaughlin
Glentoran were last night facing the prospect of appointing their third manager in little over two weeks.

Former Crusaders and Glenavon supremo Roy Walker was landed with the role on Thursday before news broke that his lack of coaching qualifications could cost the Glens their UEFA Cup place next season.

Our sources indicate that, after getting themselves into a muddle over ways and means of working around the Licences issue, Glentoran bigwigs have realised they were left with just two options - appoint a new boss or pull out of Europe.

They cannot compete in Europe if Walker stays because, despite his considerable knowledge and past successes, he doesn't have any recognised coaching qualifications.

It now appears that First Team Coach Alan McDonald could be set to step into the breach - permanently!

The Glens were awarded their UEFA Club Licence for the 2007/08 season on the understanding that Paul Millar - who was equipped with the necessary badges - would be at the helm.

His sacking almost two weeks ago did not affect Glentoran's Licence, but Walker's appointment most certainly did and the east Belfast side were set to have it revoked, thus excluding them from not only continental competition, but from the Setanta Sports Cup also.

That, in turn, would have impacted upon other Irish League clubs with Cliftonville - currently preparing for next month's InterToto showdown with FC Dinaburg of Latvia - promoted to the UEFA Cup and Lisburn Distillery given just a matter of weeks' notice to take on the Baltic outfit.

Club Licenses are awarded based on a number of criteria, one of which is that the team's Manager or Head Coach must have obtained either a...

- UEFA 'Pro' Diploma

- UEFA 'A' Licence

... and, if he is in possession of neither, must have at least started a UEFA 'A' Licence course.

And Walker, who led Crusaders to the Irish League title in 1995 and 1997, owns none of the above, nor has he obtained the UEFA 'B' Licence required to begin the 'A' course.

Yesterday, as the story began to unfold, he said: "I'm disappointed that presently I am not in a position to take up the offer from Glentoran.

"Myself and Alan [McDonald] were excited about working together and we talked about introducing new players but those plans are now scuppered somewhat.

"There are ways you could be creative around it but I want Glentoran to act with integrity and do everything correctly.

"As I understand it I am unable to be Glentoran manager if there's no way round it."

Rumour had been rife that, in order to combat the problem, Glentoran would appoint 52-times capped McDonald to the managerial role on a temporary basis, with Walker taking over the reins once their Euro excursion came to an end - a tactic which could have thrown up its own problems had the Glens made any sort of real progress in the competition!

McDonald has a 'Pro' Licence and was believed to be on the verge of taking over for a six-week stint, allowing Walker to take over ahead of the CIS Cup kicking off in August.

Director of Football Tom Dick had hinted that might be the case earlier in the week when he explained that: "Roy Walker won't be on duty in Europe anyway as he is away on a pre-booked holiday. His job doesn't start until the beginning of the season.

"Alan McDonald is staying at the club and he has a UEFA licence so nothing will be affected," he said.

"It is not an issue and we wouldn't have appointed him [Walker] if it had been an issue."

Such a move would not have been viewed in a favourable light by UEFA, however, as an IFA spokesman explained to Sunday Life yesterday.

"It would be a dangerous ploy to try and circumvent the regulations," he said.

"Any club found guilty of trying to do so would have UEFA to deal with and the consequences would be grave.

"Expulsion from Europe would be automatic and there would be additional sanctions."

Clubs qualifying for the UEFA Cup are guaranteed in the region of £60,000 - £70,000 and that would be withdrawn.

The IFA source added: "Licences to compete in Europe are granted on the back of certain criteria and are in place for a year.

"There can be no shortcuts. If Glentoran declare that Roy Walker is not the manager/head coach then he could have no say in team selection or team tactics for the next year.

"It's up to Glentoran to clarify exactly what role Roy Walker and Alan McDonald will be playing."

Sunday Life understands that former Northern Ireland international McDonald has been offered the job and is set to give Oval chiefs his answer tomorrow.

Last night, the 43-year-old - who joined the club's coaching staff midway through last season - was remaining tight-lipped about the dramatic twis

The former QPR star insisted the Manager's job had NOT been offered to him, adding his determination that the situation be resolved as soon as possible.

"I am employed as Glentoran's First Team Coach," he explained, " and that is what I expect to be for the foreseeable future.

"It [the Manager's job] has not been put to me and I expect things will become a lot clearer tomorrow.

"It needs to be sorted out soon."

The Irish Football Association insist that Glentoran were fully advised of the situation BEFORE they appointed Walker to the post. Belfast Telegraph

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