“This is similar to the story in the legendary fictional Shaolin Soccer.”
ONENEWS.MY.ID – Let’s play around with speculative questions. Is it possible to collect 26 football players in three days without enough money and immediately appear in the league and turn out to be proud, even reach the play-offs for promotion to a higher caste?
This unique story similar to the legendary film Shaolin Soccer is really real and takes place in Ireland, and involves a newly formed second-caste club, Treaty United.
This sounds like a fairy tale. But, this is really what a local Irish coach named Tommy Barrett did. He built Treaty. He tried to form a club to enter the 2021 Irish League First Division or just a few months after the club was founded.
The story begins in late 2019 when two-time Irish Premier League champions, Limerick FC, were stripped of their playing license due to mounting debts. And, according to regulations, the club must disband. That means ending their 83 long adventurous years in the highest tier of Irish football.
Subsequently, an entirely new team called Limerick United was formed by Conn Murray. However, the original owner, Pat O’Sullivan, took legal action regarding the patent.
As a result of losing in court, Murray was forced to change the name Limerick United to Treaty United. Treaty is the nickname of Limerick City, the city where the club originated. The city is called the Treaty because it was here that the “Treaty” to end the Williamite War in 1691 was executed.
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This new club also formed a women’s team and managed to get a license to appear in the 2020 Women’s National League. However, the fate of the men’s team was different. They applied for a license to join Division I in November 2020. The Irish Football League accepted the application and started processing it.
Authorities need time to assess and decide on Treaty applications. So. they decided to write “TBC” (to be confirmed) when the 2021 First Division released the official schedule in early February 2021 for the first game on 26 March 2021.
According to the rules, Barrett could not do anything because the status of the Treaty was not clear. He has not been allowed to form the squad because he is not a member of the league.
“We were not told anything. We heard of the possibility. But, later on we also heard it could be Shamrock Rovers II (the Irish Premier League reserve team who replaced Limerick in 2020). We also heard of several other clubs,” said Barrett. to BBC Sport.
“There’s also talk of the Treaty not being ready. ‘Can they leave in 2022? With Covid maybe there’s no time’. We got a bit of a rumour, a bit of a leaked conversation from the meeting. We weren’t notified a week or two in advance. We were told that day ,” added Barrett.
2021 was an incredible year for our Senior Men’s side
We want to thank you for your incredible support all year, and what better way to do it than with a new signing! 😍
See ya at 9PM ️
— Treaty United FC (@TreatyUnitedFC) December 31, 2021
Apparently, three days before the deadline for player registration on February 20, 2021, a letter stating Treaty got a license and was allowed to play in Division I came out. Imagine, it’s only three days? If 26 players fail to register, the Treaty will be crossed out!
It’s even sadder because Treaty is not a club funded by the rich, big corporations, or Middle Eastern investors. This club is similar to Barcelona or Real Madrid owned by members aka “Socios”. However, unlike the two elite Spanish clubs, the members of the Treaty are very few and are not rich people.
So, Barrett had to make several calls and offers to players without adequate financial backing. It’s like going to the battlefield without proper equipment.
Fortunately Barrett is a charismatic and respected figure. He has also started making selections since January 2021, although then several players left due to the absence of black and white.
Treaty United’s 26-man squad was built in three days with no money. That same season they exceeded all expectations and reached the play-offs.
Here’s how it happened
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 4, 2022
Barrett then started contacting the players one by one, including left-back Marc Ludden. He is one of the few Treaty players to have experience in the league and having worked with Barrett at disbanded club Limerick. Amazingly, there was no talk of money as the players stated they were ready to join within three days.
“We took him (Ludden) into training with 40 players. I could see it in his face. He thought ‘what am I doing here without money?’ He was shocked,” said Barrett.
A squad of 26 people in the first team was finally assembled. But, there are other jobs because other conditions must have a junior team. Barrett again contacted several Limerick U-19 players who had disbanded. By word of mouth they knew that Barrett was in need of help. Some even called him directly to ask if they could help.
Jack Lynch, who captained Treaty, linked Barrett with several of his team-mates he had played with in the previous season at Galway United, including Ludden.
“It was difficult to get them over the line because we only had three days to get players with signed contracts. Then, a lot of players needed transfers (from local non-league clubs). We were an unknown entity at the time, said Lynch.
Barrett added, it took a struggle to be able to complete the deadline. Because, when the contract is about to be signed, it is normal for players to submit numbers and negotiate. There are also old agents and clubs involved. But, fortunately all of Barrett’s players did not think about how much nominal they would receive.
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“Initially, we thought we should recruit 25 people. Our secretary thought it was the maximum squad. But, it turned out to be the women’s league rules that confused us,” said Barrett.
Treaty’s opening competitive match was a 0-0 draw at Bray Wanderers. It came six weeks after they were without players and the certainty of a league appearance.
As it turned out, that was only the beginning as Treaty went on to craze in Ireland’s second tier competition. The club exceeded almost all expectations. They finished the league in fourth place in the final standings. That is, they are entitled to appear in the play-offs for promotion to the Irish Premier League.
“We are an amateur team against professionals in many games. We have 27 games after a short pre-season. However, we are not ready to move up as a club. We have to build the foundation and get things right first,” Barrett said modestly.
In the end, Treaty failed promotion. They were stopped in the semi-finals of a play-off against University College Dublin (UCD). The club eventually beat Bray Wanderers in the final and then triumphed over Waterford in another play-off against a bottom-ranked Irish Premier League side.
Treaty United prepare for a second year in the First Division as fixtures are confirmed – https://t.co/luyySq1gR5pic.twitter.com/jWp1KIIzxr
— Limerick Post (@limerickpost) January 5, 2022
(mochamad rahmatul haq/you)