CORK CITY chairman Declan Carey is adamant that any decisions the club makes on a resumption of the League of Ireland will be with the Rebel Army’s best interests in mind.
City are considering an FAI proposal for a return to football which, it is believed, would see clubs receive between €100,000 and €160,000 in order to offset the loss of match-night revenue.
They, and other clubs, are likely to push for an increase on that front as negotiations continue this week.
Carey couldn’t comment on the package offered or the club’s own projections, but he does acknowledge the seemingly never-ending series of challenges he and the board of management have had to contend with.
“The most challenging thing for us is that, after everything that has happened over the last 12-18 months, we were finally in a place at the start of the season where the club was set up in a satisfactory way for us,” he says.
“We actually had the club set up to go in a good direction and we were starting the rebuilding process. Everyone was happy that we could make decisions off our own back and we weren’t in a situation where the finances were dictating every decision we made.
“There were a couple of months in 2018 and 2019 where decisions had to be made based on the finances.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re one board member or seven, safeguarding the club is the most important thing.
“Making a strategic decision to try something new, you’re never going to do that if you’re putting the club at financial risk.
“Once we got the licence this year and we made the deal with Preston to sell back the clauses [for Seán Maguire and Kevin O’Connor], we were in a brilliant position.
“We had just picked up a great win against Finn Harps and everyone was looking forward to that Bohs game at home, but the rug was pulled from under us.
“Everybody got that nervous feeling that we were back in with an uncontrollable thing that had impacted us.
“We got back into crisis-management mode again and that has been the most frustrating thing over the last two years — we haven’t had much control and the finances have dictated a lot of what we’ve had to do.”
Crisis-management is something that Carey and the rest of the board of Foras, the supporters’ trust that runs City, have had to become good at.
However, he retains a sense of perspective.
“Who could have predicted that this was going to happen?
“It’s the same for every sporting organisation, whether you’re amateur or semi-pro or professional, you’re going to have to deal with it in a different way.
“There are other clubs in the League of Ireland who have bigger financial problems to solve than us.
“If we had qualified for Europe, maybe we’d have been in a trickier position because we’d have had a bigger budget and it would have been tougher to manage.
“It’s amazing the way things turn out. We got criticism from some quarters for having so many loan players at the start of the season, but essentially that has worked out well financially.
“Crisis-management is something we’ve all become good at and [treasurer] Conor Hallahan is well capable of giving us the right figures and the right projections.
“We’ve been able to get to a position where the finances of the club are in a solid position. He has put together numerous forecasts based on previous scenarios, so we’re not strangers to it.”
Despite the hardened times, unity among players and staff at the club remains strong and Carey commends the togetherness.
“A hundred percent,” he says. “I have to commend the players and the staff — the off-field staff in the office and then the likes of Neale Fenn and Joe Gamble and the coaches.
“Everyone has banded together in a way I haven’t seen since my time on the board. We’re getting positive messages from the players, words of encouragement from them and it’s great to get.
“We have to make some decisions that are not the best for them in financial terms but they understand that the long-term future of the club is more important.
“A lot of them are young and they know they’ll be back wearing the City jersey again. There are no awkward tensions, we’re all in it together.
“Everybody knows that we will be back again, doing what we were trying to do from February, building a young squad and trying to drive on.”