CORK CITY and Dundalk, two of the biggest clubs in the country, will attract a crowd of close on 6,000 for their televised ‘Clash of the Champions’ at Turner’s Cross on Saturday afternoon, 3pm.
It’s a massive weekend for soccer with Ireland taking on Wales in our World Cup qualifier at a sold-out Aviva Stadium tomorrow night, and less than 24 hours later, the FAI Cup champions take on the defending league champions and a Dundalk side going for four in a row.
All is rosy in the garden in both the domestic and international scene at the moment, but time was when both Cork and Dundalk were on the verge of extinction, and that is not too long ago!
The issue of some clubs over-spending and living beyond their means cropped up at John Caulfield’s weekly press briefing at Bishopstown in mid-week and the City manager was not short of an opinion on the topic.
“Six or seven clubs have gone bust here in Ireland since 2000/01 and we were one of them. You look at the likes of Shelbourne, Bohemians, Derry City and even Dundalk were in bits for a time before Stephen Kenny arrived.
All these clubs invested massive, massive money to win leagues and clubs like Sporting Fingal who won the Cup are no more and Dublin City went out of football in a hurry too,” said Caulfield.
“Did they buy leagues or what? If your club doesn’t survive it means nothing. It’s like us we won the league in 2005 and the club was defunct in 2010 and out of football before the fans got together and saved the football club.
“We paid huge wages at the time to win a league title but those days are gone and now under Foras and the fans’ Trust, the club is stable and the hope is that we will survive for another one hundred years and more.
“Shelbourne are still struggling to make ends meet after all the titles they won over the years and they are about to ground- share with Bohemians up at Dalymount Park. It’s a warning that if a club is living outside its means, and we were in the past, then you are asking for trouble down the road.
"We had a 10-year period in the league where the majority of clubs were living beyond their means and it was totally unrealistic. Some clubs went bust and they have suffered the hard way and have not come back.
"It caused chaos for some at the end of the day,” he added. “Common sense has come back into our league and practicality and proper budgets have come back into the domestic game and it’s a very good league now.
"We ran Genk close in Europe last summer and they are now in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and up against Spanish side, Celta Vigo next month. Dundalk had a fabulous run and made the group stages and all that shows our league in a positive way.
"I think that shows us in a good light and Genk have over £40 million in the bank after selling some of their best players that lined-out against us. They are probably a weaker team today than when they beat us 3-1 on aggregate last summer,” he added.
“Fair dues to them. It was a great privilege for us to play them at the time in that third qualifying round and we’d hope to do something similar in Europe this summer.
"But the key to it is that you have to work within your structures and your budget and we do that religiously at Cork City. I am happy to do it – it’s difficult at times but I love it,” he said.
City have major injury doubts over skipper Johnny Dunleavy (ankle) and midfielder Greg Bolger (calf) ahead of Saturday’s clash which comes too soon for John Kavanagh as well as he works his way back to fitness after a serious injury.
Match-goers are advised to buy their tickets well in advance.