Preston model of involvement in the community is ideal for Cork City

Preston model of involvement in the community is ideal for Cork City

Seán Maguire says goodbye to fans after the game in Bray before he moved to Preston. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

WHILE things have been quiet on the Cork City front since the result of Wednesday’s vote of Foras members, that should be taken as a good rather than bad thing.

At the remotely-held meeting on Wednesday night, members of Foras, the supporters’ trust which owns the club, voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing Grovemoor Ltd to exercise a call-option to purchase the club.

The Foras board of management had backed such a move and have welcomed the result but, as yet, Grovemoor – owned by Trevor Hemmings, the owner of Preston North End – have not issued any statement, good or bad. That in itself should be taken as an endorsement of the company’s mode of operation, with due diligence currently being carried out and the City accounts examined before any public pronouncements.

There is naturally concern among City supporters that Grovemoor may not act upon the call-option, a concern probably exacerbated by the fact that the Rebel Army have been relegated to the First Division of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, but it is not believed that this has changed the landscape to any fundamental degree.

Joseph Olowu of Cork City after the loss at Sligo that saw the club relegated. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Joseph Olowu of Cork City after the loss at Sligo that saw the club relegated. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

While Grovemoor will of course want to see development and improvement on the field, this investment isn’t the kind where there is a necessity to provide a financial return. 

Trevor Hemmings, through his other business involvements in Cork, such as Trabolgan, has become enamoured with the area and it’s important to bear in mind that, when City approached Preston to see if they would buy the sell-on clauses for Alan Browne and Seán Maguire, there was no compulsion for the English side to do so. 

Neither player was likely to be sold in the immediate future, so it wasn’t as if Preston had a huge financial incentive to shell out cash – there was a humanitarian element to it and that is seen in how the club does its business across the board.

It’s probably hard to keep track of the various scandals that envelop English football, but you’d be thinking for a long time to find one involving Preston under the ownership of Hemmings. 

As well as success being pursued on the field – challenging for the play-offs in the Championship is not easy to do on a regular basis – away from the pitch there is a strong sense of the club being an integral part of the community, with players heavily involved in a visible way.

Having something similar would only be a good thing for City, with youngsters developing as players and men and women – it’s important to remember that Cork City Women are a part of the takeover too and recent good results reflect well on the way things have improved there.

Again, it’s important to reiterate the level of credit due to Foras and look at the trust’s tenure in the round rather than focus on recent years, when a difficult situation became impossible, as much due to external as internal factors.

Foras was established as a safeguard, a fallback option and a source of support in running the club’s academy, and even those driving it must have felt that it was a long shot that they would have to steer the ship. When the time came, those supporters showed themselves to adept at doing that, taking the club from the First Division to a position where they were regularly challenging at the top of the Premier Division.

Having stepped into the breach to save the club when there were no other options available at the start of 2010, Foras did more than enough good work over the course of a decade or so to have earned enough karma to deserve salvation themselves.

Hopefully, Grovemoor will provide that and City will ultimately benefit from it.

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