DESPITE the challenges the global pandemic brought to all walks of life in 2020, there has been great progress made at Cobh Ramblers in the last 12 months.
On the pitch, they only missed out on the League Of Ireland First Division promotion playoff places on goal difference, while off the field there also were a number of reasons to offer encouragement.
Ramblers' club members were told at a meeting recently that the club turned a profit during the year, which as a consequence has helped the club reduce some long-term debts.
Much of that is a credit to the work done by the committee and volunteers at the club and also improved relations and engagement with the local Cobh and wider community.
Speaking to The Echo, Ramblers chairman Bill O’Leary explained how the club managed to make a profit in the season just concluded.
“The club has done well. We are not really in the position of making money at the moment I would say.
“But we have certainly worked very prudently. The FAI has really supported us as many clubs during a difficult time.
“We lost our two big revenue streams in 2020. Our two main revenue streams are the home match night gates and the bar.
“So we have been very prudent. We have engaged with sponsors, we have engaged with the community.
“We built a couple of other revenue streams, such as streaming of our games and online merchandising.
“The FAI have supported us and have subsidised some of our running costs. They have been a great help.
“So we have done well and funnily enough, we have been in a position where we are able to pay down some more of our long term debt.
“We really are in a strong position. I would say compared to every other club in the country at a senior level, we are probably in a better position from our long term debt point of view, other than the clubs that are run by and really supported by benefactors. We are not obviously supported by a benefactor.”
All in all those associated with Ramblers are looking to the future with optimism, with plans in the pipeline to potentially enter a Cobh Ramblers team into the Women’s National League as early as 2022.
As O’Leary outlines, planning is underway already for what the club hopes to achieve next term.
“We want to get to the playoffs for sure. It could be a bigger league next year, we know there are three or four interested parties so that is exciting.
“It shows there is still a real appetite for League Of Ireland Football. So we want to make playoffs and promotion a priority. We also want to continue to build on our financial prudence.
“We want to look at the ladies side, we are looking at entering a team into the Women’s National League to coincide with our centenary in 2022. We want to engage more with sponsors and we have had real interest in sponsors, that is a really positive sign.
“We have engaged with maybe eight or 10 sponsors, many of those are interested and they get what we are trying to do. But certainly, we are getting positive feedback. So sponsorship is a key one for us. We want to continue to grow our streaming offering.
“We want to reach out to the Cobh and the regional diaspora. We want to continue to see ourselves as the second Cork team, rather than the only Cobh team.
“We need to continue to be ambitious, we need to continue to engage with the FAI and foster good relations, which we have done and we respect what they are trying to do.
“We hope that by celebrating our centenary, we would be celebrating it by being in the Premier Division. That would be amazing. We have got a dedicated group looking at this already.
“It is 14 months out, we are looking at developing a whole series of events, a calendar of events.
“Some of those would be high profile, possibly involving a high profile English team. There will be many different events for the community and really we can’t wait.
“We want to embrace the future, but we have to respect the past. That includes players, volunteers and former board members, everyone that has contributed to the club.
“Being here 100 years later, it is great and a testament to all of those people. It is a great thing to celebrate and to look forward to.”