FORAS members voted to sell Cork City Football Club to Trevor Hemmings and Grovemoor Limited this week.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 will go down in history as the date that fans voted to sell their club and all its liabilities to Trevor Hemming’s Grovemoor Ltd.
The vote was conducted online through a Webinar platform and while it took ages, all were happy with the process and procedures in place on the night.
After months of speculation and debate, the delayed vote finally took place and after five hours of discussion, deliberation and emotional soul searching over 400 members cast their votes between online and postal vote.
When the scrutineers were satisfied that all votes were counted the result was announced.
The company with links to Preston North End in the UK is set to become the new owner of CCFC. Grovemoor already has business interests in Cork in Trabolgan and Trevor Hemmings is linked to a stud farm in North Cork.
Hopefully, their next venture in Cork has ambitious goals and that is to get CCFC back to the top of the premier league and back playing in Europe.
Grovemoor have committed to set their plan in motion and take up the option to buy the club, in time to get the FAI licencing process finalised before the deadline for next season.
They want to keep as many local links as possible involved in the football side of things so it will be interesting to see if they stick with the current management team or recruit a new manager.
Time will tell.
The Board Of Management strongly endorsed this takeover and in so doing have put enormous trust in Grovemoor to deliver.
So what does this mean for the club?
Greater resources and expertise in running a football club and of course a stronger financial position can only be a benefit but the wealth of knowledge contained within the club can not be ignored. I for one sincerely hope that Grovemoor tap into this tacit knowledge and don’t let it go to waste.
There are several full time employees and admin staff that have worked tirelessly to keep the club afloat and they all deserve to have their livelihoods secured. This is also an opportunity for Foras to regroup and it is important that the Co-operative of fans continues to exist as a support to the club.
There have been many positive aspects to Foras which need to be carried on.
In this crazy world of League of Ireland football the importance of a trust like Foras cannot be overlooked.
The fan-owned model may not have been sustainable over the long term but this is the breathing space that Foras needs to reorganise.
The last two years have been extremely difficult both on and off the pitch but it is clear that the current Board of Management have been transparent and professional and operated with the best intention of the club at heart.
It can be very easy to overlook the pressure imposed on the people charged with steering the club through difficult times.
It can be very easy to stand on the outside and criticise decisions when things are going wrong but this can not have been an easy time for the members that were elected by the trust to steer the course.
The Board needed to make very big decisions in a very short time frame so the powers that be in the FAI were satisfied that the club was viable for 2020.
I am glad they took this decision because even in this interrupted season it would have been unthinkable to have no club in this sports-mad city.
The decision to cash in the ‘sell-on’ clauses for Seanie Maguire and Alan Browne was a brave but magnificent move to save the club and subsequent negotiations brought us to where we are now.
I wonder if Covid had not happened where would we be? Most probably not in 10th position of the Premier Division.
Comparing 2010 with 2020 is pointless but one significant thing in common was how close the club came to extinction.
Covid has deflected from the magnitude of this narrowly avoided disaster but fans were given a taste of what life is like without football in Cork.
Not being allowed go to games is one thing but not having games to go to at all would have been an entirely different proposition.
There was a noticeable drop in attendances during the 2018 season and it started to feel like things were not quite right behind the scenes.
We all have our opinions on what went wrong but the people best placed at the time strongly endorsed a move away from fan ownership and that led to the road we are now on.
Whether it is the right choice remains to be seen but the fact is that CCFC under the guidance of Foras was much like a building being demolished, it collapsed from the inside out.
I dread to think what would have happened if Trevor Hemmings and Grovemoor had not stepped in. They have earned the right to run the club and the Foras members have voted as such.
Now let’s start building for 2021.