THE board of management of Cork City has called on the Munster Football Association to engage with Grovemoor Ltd towards agreeing a long-term lease on Turner’s Cross, which would allow a takeover of the club to proceed.
Last week, it was revealed that Grovemoor would not be exercising a purchase-option on City at the present time as negotiations with the MFA came to nothing. That means that City will continue to be run by supporters’ trust Foras as they compete in the SSE Airtricity League First Division in 2021, though a statement on Tuesday confirmed that assistance from Grovemoor owner Trevor Hemmings has been forthcoming in terms of trying to secure a licence.
While City will operate “a youth-orientated first-team player recruitment policy”, it is believed that this will be on a semi-professional rather than an amateur basis. A manager has yet to be appointed, but it is believed that City’s academy head Colin Healy is the favoured choice again, with Alan Reynolds no longer in the running.
“Following on from the events of last week, and following discussions with Grovemoor Ltd, the board are pleased to announce that Mr Trevor Hemmings has committed to helping the club secure a licence to participate in the League of Ireland for 2021,” City’s statement read.
“The board would like to publicly thank Mr Hemmings and his representatives for once again making a commitment to Cork football and in doing so securing the jobs of our professional staff for the upcoming season.
“Our continued work with Grovemoor along with the budget that the board has put in place for the 2021 football season will enable us to maintain our current academy structures and professional off-field structures which we believe are a fundamental pre-requisite to a re-building process which must take place.
"The club will be adopting a youth-orientated first-team player recruitment policy for the upcoming football season.”
Looking further ahead, the takeover by Grovemoor is not off the table, but the Turner’s Cross issue must be resolved in order for it to proceed. There is a chance that City could play games at Musgrave Park or Bishopstown next year, but the club’s hope is that the MFA will re-enter discussions with Grovemoor.
“Beyond this, our current business model still makes it particularly difficult for us to regularly compete at the top-end of Irish football,” the statement continued.
“This is not a situation which we are happy with, and is a far cry from what we believe Cork City Football Club can achieve, both on and off the pitch. This is a particularly dispiriting situation given the unique opportunity of investment from Mr Hemmings, of which he and Grovemoor are committed to pursuing.
“For these reasons, the board of management of Cork City FC would state our absolute disappointment that an agreement has not been reached with the Munster Football Association, in securing a long-lease that would have allowed Grovemoor Ltd, and Mr Hemmings to invest in the requisite infrastructure that is critical to the growth of the football club, and the development of football across Cork and Munster as a whole.
“Significant investment in Irish football is a rarity, and the current situation we find ourselves in is nothing more than an opportunity wasted, particularly given the dedication that Mr Hemmings and Grovemoor Ltd, have shown toward Cork football, despite currently having no ownership in it.
“We would now strongly encourage the MFA to proactively engage with Grovemoor Ltd, and the FAI to reach a solution which would be to the betterment of our collective football community, which should be a common goal for all stakeholders involved at various levels of football across Cork city, county, and the whole of Munster.”