Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr has criticised the FAI for their treatment of Waterford FC in light of the club's recent off-field issue through COVID-19.
Waterford had been scheduled to take on Sligo Rovers on Friday evening before the rigours of COVID-19 protocol informed the decision to forfeit the fixture.
After their first-team players were initially ruled out of last weekend's clash with Drogheda due to being close contacts of a positive COVID-19 test, Waterford fielded their U19s instead and were convincingly beaten.
Opting not to expose their young players to a likely similar fate this weekend, it was declared that Waterford would not be able to fulfil the fixture against Sligo and their opponents were handed a 3-0 win.
"I think this is very, very troubling," Brian Kerr told OTB Sports. "The idea that a League of Ireland team has to go and put out their U19s... is embarrassing.
"That they then add further into the mix that they're going to give a walkover this weekend, that totally upsets the fairness and competition within the league."
Without laying the blame at Waterford's door, however, Kerr cited the 'over-zealous' nature of the league's own ambition not to have "matches played no matter what."
"I think the heavy boot is coming down on the clubs once again," the former St. Patrick's Athletic boss stated, "by the FAI and by the League of Ireland part of the FAI.
"They're over-using the heavy boot in these most difficult times for clubs around the COVID situation."
With Waterford expected to be back to a full complement of players for next weekend's clash with Derry City, Kerr cited the potential ramifications of these two unusual fixtures.
In both cases, Drogheda (7) and Sligo (3) will have improved their points tally and goals difference in circumstances apart from what Waterford's other opponents can necessarily expect.
"That just seems grossly unfair to me," argued Kerr, "and if you're a club that lost points to Waterford already this season, you would feel very hard done by.
"That Drogheda and Sligo have gotten points so handily, you would be rather annoyed. It is an unfair league as far as I'm concerned."
Putting the onus back onto the FAI and how they could address this competitive imbalance, Kerr does not necessarily expect decisive action.
"Are they too proud or too heavy-booted that they want to trample on the clubs that are unfortunately caught in these situations," he asked. "I think it is grossly unfair."
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