CORK CITY General Manager Paul Wycherley says that the club “can’t afford to put all of our eggs in one basket” as the ongoing application for a facility in Glanmire rests in the hands of the Government Grant Scheme.
The project, to establish a Munster Centre of Excellence with state-of-the-art facilities for players, referees, and administrators on a 30-acre site in the Cork City suburb, was launched by a partnership of the Football Association of Ireland, Cork County Council, and FORAS - the co-operative which owns the city’s sole senior football club – in December 2016.
However, GM Wycherley revealed that the Leesiders won’t know about the facility’s fate until potentially as late as November, almost three years since that December 2016 launch date, and over six months beyond the point by which the facility was due to be completed.
And Wycherley believes the club now need to look for a contingency plan should those in the nation’s capital not look favourably on the application.
“What I would say is that as much as we wish for Glanmire to go ahead and be successful, we also need to be looking at possible alternatives and we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket.
“We are looking at other opportunities because even if Glanmire does go ahead, it’s a few years down the line, so we have to be looking at developing facilities in the short-medium term as well.
“The funding application was sent in through the Government Grant Scheme a few weeks ago, so that’s done and dusted.
“It’s now in the hands of the fund granters in government.
“I believe a decision will be sometime between September and November but I’m not sure when exactly, to be honest.”
The club’s General Manager also divulged at last week’s #WinAGaff competition - which gives 9,000 people the chance to win a brand new two-bed apartment at the Aylesbury Housing Development on the Boreenmanna Road in Ballintemple – that the Rebel Army will use the return, worth potentially more than €200,000 should the tickets sell-out, exclusively on their underage structures.
“This project was always going to happen regardless of results on the pitch, and we have the money from this particular fundraising project earmarked for the academy – that’s the strategic long-term thinking.
Now we have an academy all the way down to 13s, and let’s try and develop that even further if we can, but that takes a very large financial investment.
“We need to build up our finances with events like this, so we can bring those young players into our first-team, and ultimately win football matches.”
Music to Academy and U19s Manager Colin Healy’s ears, who has been double-jobbing of late with the first-team under interim manager John Cotter, and is keen to give those young players a chance under this new regime.
“I’m enjoying it. I’ve got a lot of experience playing in England and that kind of stuff, and I’ve played with a few of the lads in the squad at the moment so they know what I’m about.
“It’s great to be involved and obviously coaching good players is great as well.
“They’re all good lads and we’ve all got respect for each other.
“We’ve got some really good players in the U19s and a few have already made it to the first team, so the academy is very strong at the moment, thankfully.
“It’s a big step up to the first-team, but you always have to have a look, and the guys that have made that step have done really well.
“My job is to get players into the first team from the academy, and when they get out onto the pitch for the first team at Turner’s Cross, that’s our job done.”
Given City’s relative size, one must be pragmatic too.
And with rumours that former academy midfielder Alan Browne could be Premiership bound for a potential eight-figure sum, the compensation income could well eclipse anything the club has ever received in transfer fees.
“Of course, we obviously realise there’s a bigger market than us in the UK, when the time is right,” admitted Wycherley, who himself has plenty of experience working within the English game.
“In any business situation, you need investment to get a return.
“If we invest in our academy like Shamrock Rovers have done, then you get the return like they did with Gavin Bazunu.”
However, in an Irish context this partnership is particularly progressive, with Douglas GAA club working alongside the Rebel Army and Kinsale AFC, demonstrating that despite recent controversies at Croke Park, partnerships between Gaelic Games and the Beautiful Game are possible.
“It just goes to show how the different codes, GAA and soccer, professional and amateur, can all work together for each other’s benefit.
“When you look at the Liam Miller fundraising fixture at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, that’s a fantastic example of the codes working together not only for each other but for different charities around Cork as well.
“We have some potentially big fundraisers planned this season; I don’t know if they’ll be to the same extent and size of this one, but we do have a few more events planned which will just be to Cork City, but will be a bit unique and special, so watch this space.”