DANNY O’Donnell has sensationally walked away from the Ballarat Red Devils on the eve of the National Premier Leagues Victoria One season.
O’Donnell made the decision to quit, citing poor handling of his overseas visa and a fundamental administration problem at the Red Devils as the reasons for his to return to England.
His departure comes just over a month before Ballarat kicks off its 2015 NPLV One season against Sunshine George Cross.
“The visa was handled poorly,” O’Donnell told The Courier before flying out for England on Tuesday night
“I’d spoken to immigration and they were happy, they were waiting for the Red Devils to give it the green light. It could have still been resolved, it wasn’t a difficult process at all, but after weeks of it I’d had enough.”
In a press release issued by the Red Devils on Tuesday, the club’s business manager Darrin Carroll said a two-year contract had been offered to O’Donnell.
Red Devils chairman Duncan Smith defended the club’s handling of the visa, saying the process was more complicated than first anticipated.
“It’s something we’ve never had to go through and it was quite difficult.It’s about finding the right visa and which one suits him best. There’d be
hundreds of different visas and two
immigration lawyers said he (O’Don-
nell) didn’t meet the requirements, where another one said he did.”
O’Donnell believes there is a problem within the administration of the Red Devils, which led to a poor team budget and a substandard playing roster.
He also expressed a lack of confidence in Smith as the Red Devils chairman, and cited the club’s handling of player payments as contributing to his departure.
“If you compare our squad to the other NPLV teams, we were performing miracles to finish where we did,” he said.
“It comes down to money, when it shouldn’t really have to. We weren’t asking for ridiculous money, just enough to see that we were competitive.”
However, the centre-back reserved high praise for the coaching staff, led by James Robinson, who he said “commanded the total respect of every single player”.
Having not officially announced any new recruits for the upcoming season, the Red Devils could have two international spots to fill before finalising their playing roster.