CORK CITY chairman Declan Carey remains optimistic that Grovemoor’s proposed takeover of the club will go ahead by the end of the year.
Members of Foras, the supporters’ trust which owns City, voted in October to allow the Trevor Hemmings-owned Grovemoor to avail of a call option on a purchase.
While that has yet to take place – and changes in ownership cannot take place mid-season – relations between the parties remain positive. Last month, The Echo reported that Grovemoor had given an undertaking to the FAI to act as guarantors to City in the unlikely event of financial troubles this year, while clarity has been provided in terms of the call-option timeline – this will be surrendered if control isn’t transferred in the next licensing period.
Carey is hopeful that the takeover can proceed but is happy for Foras to hold the decision-making power in the club until then.
We’re still in close contact with them and they’ve told us that the takeover will or won’t happen by the time of the next licensing period.
“These takeovers can take months, if not a year or more, to go through. We thank everyone for their patience and we’ll progress as things are for now. Foras are 100% in charge and the board have governance on all decisions, so that’s how things are standing at the moment.”
Part of Grovemoor’s plan is to negotiate a long-term lease with the Munster Football Association for Turner’s Cross. While Carey cannot comment on those discussions, he sees it as a positive that Grovemoor are engaging with the local football community. “We’ve obviously sorted our agreement with the MFA,” he says.
“In terms of another agreement between two third parties, we’re not really privy to the conversation.
“Grovemoor have initiated conversations with many stakeholders and commercial partners, they have the right to do that as part of the takeover discussions and we’ll let them go through their due diligence with that.
“We’re confident that they’ll get matters resolved but we’re not privy to any of those negotiations or able to make an official statement.”
Overall, the fiscal picture is a bright one for City, with a restructuring of the club’s debt ensuring extra security.
“We’ve budgeted prudently,” Carey says, “and we expect to be highly competitive in the first division this season, but not to the detriment of the club in terms of taking a gigantic financial risk.
“Colin has put together an excellent squad on a reduced budget and we’re well set up for all possible scenarios. If the worst were to happen, it wouldn’t risk the entire club and we’re in as good a place financially as we have been in the last couple of years.”
City have had to inform season-ticket holders from last season that refunds will not be offered. Some supporters had offered to forfeit any refunds while others had sought their money to be returned.
A 2021 ‘season card’ package will be offered soon and 2020 season-ticket holders will be avail to avail of them at a discount, according to Carey.
“Unfortunately, we took the decision not to offer the refunds,” he says. “Last year, we gave a free streaming pass to everybody that wanted one and we’ll be giving a further discount on a season-pass package, which we will be announcing shortly.
“It doesn’t make up for fans not coming into the ground, obviously, but we’ll do our best to make sure that people are as engaged as possible with the club for when this pandemic ends and they can be allowed back into the stadium.
“We are working as hard as possible on that front but we’re obviously working under the guidance of the FAI and the government.”
A home game with Cobh Ramblers next Friday, March 26 will be City’s season opener and the second game, away to Cabinteely, will see the first outing for the new away strip, which is launching soon.
“We’ll be wearing a new away kit for the game against Cabinteely,” Carey says.
“With supply-chain delays due to Covid-19 and Brexit, we’ll hopefully have it on sale in or around that time.
“We’re very excited for that launch and we’re sure that supporters will like the new design.”