Cork City members vote in favour of Dermot Usher takeover

Motion to hand over control of the Rebel Army was passed with an 86% majority
Cork City members vote in favour of Dermot Usher takeover

Dermot Usher, right, seated with Eanna Buckley awaiting the start of the meeting. Picture: Larry Cummins

CORK City’s days as a fan-owned club are no more as Foras members voted in favour of a takeover by Kildare-based businessman Dermot Usher.

The motion passed with 86% of voters agreeing to give the former CEO of Sonas Bathrooms control of the club at a Special General Meeting held at the Clayton Hotel in the city centre on Sunday afternoon.

Usher will now provider FORAS with an undisclosed fee that will enable them to execute a Deeds of Surrender of the Call-Option with Grovemoor Limited. That goes back to the vote by members to sell the club to the consortium in October 2020.

Once this process has been completed, the assets and liabilities of FORAS will be transferred to a newly Incorporated Company named Cathair Chorcaí 2022 FC Limited. If this sale is not completed, Foras have authorised the Board of Management to continue to operate Cork City through Cathair Chorcaí 2022 FC Limited.

DEBT FREE

The club is not being purchased with debt and he has promised to run the football club on a debt-free basis. The primary conditions of the sale also include a buyback option for Foras of €1 on a debt-free basis.

 Foras board members Dave Alton, JP Clifford, Conor Hallahan and Declan Carey, chairman,  at the Cork City meeting. Picture: Larry Cummins
Foras board members Dave Alton, JP Clifford, Conor Hallahan and Declan Carey, chairman,  at the Cork City meeting. Picture: Larry Cummins

Usher has also laid out a number of key objectives that he hopes to achieve with Cork City.

One goal is qualifying for European competition, something last achieved by the club in 2018. Cork City already have two players signed for 2022; club captain Cian Coleman and striker Cian Murphy.

He also hopes to appoint a Director of Football, along with an accountant and a Marketing Executive and wants to regularly engage with Foras members through annual meetings and quarterly gathering with the Board of Management.

Usher also hopes to improve Cork City’s team in the Women’s National League by increasing revenue.

This ends the club’s search for investors, which was communicated by a statement in October 2022. The potential sale was first announced in November and the club’s Board of Management supported the motion.

Over the last number of weeks, the board conducted an extensive due diligence process that involved seeking proof of funds, conducting a search through the Company Registration Office that allowed them to look at potential issues around his previous directorships, looking at each of Usher’s companies to see the net assets available from the investor, asking for a receipt of the tax clearance certificates, and getting reassurance from legal representatives that he has control over all companies associated with the proposed deal and its subsidiaries.

All of these checks were returned with a positive outcome ahead of the vote by shareholders.

 Members of Foras attending the Special General Meeting at the Clayton Hotel. Picture: Larry Cummins
Members of Foras attending the Special General Meeting at the Clayton Hotel. Picture: Larry Cummins

This is not his first involvement in a League of Ireland club as Sonas Bathrooms, previously sponsored Bray Wanderers. 

The process begins now of moulding Foras in Usher’s vision ahead of the 2023 Premier Division, which is set to kick off next spring. This will be their first season not owned by the fans since 2009 when the club belonged to former chairman Tom Coughlan.

Foras took control of the club the following spring after they were relegated to the First Division.

Over the last 12 years, Cork City won two FAI Cups and one Premier Division title. They also achieved qualification to the third round of the Europa League qualifiers in the summer of 2016 and the club played in the Champions League in 2018.

Cork City also made history by becoming the first Irish team to play and win a game in the UEFA Youth League in 2016.

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