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Cork City open to investment after Grovemoor pull plug on takeover deal

Cork City will explore alternative investment avenues after Grovemoor decided not to not complete their purchase of the newly-promoted club.

The English-based group – led by Trevor Hemmings, who died last year – had saved City in early 2020 by supplying the finances necessary to secure the licence from the FAI.

As part of the deal, they bought the sell-on clauses City had brokered during the sales of Seanie Maguire and Alan Browne to Preston – the club they also own.

FORAS (Friends Of The Rebels Army Society) in October 2020 ratified a motion to sell City and its debts to Grovemoor for €1 but the move stalled due to difficulties in agreeing a deal with Turner’s Cross owners Munster Football Association (MFA) over City’s home venue.

The group retained a “call-option” to execute the deal, which extended into a second year of City’s existence in the First Division.

Admitting “frustration” about the unresolved ownership situation, City board member Dave Alton admitted the passing of Mr Hemmings was ultimately to the fore in scuppering the deal.

In Thursday’s statement, City admitted the ability to compete for silverware and European qualification will require external investment.

“Based on a review of the economic conditions and investment into other clubs within the League of Ireland, the board of management believes that if Cork City FC is to compete regularly for trophies at the top end of Irish football and reach its full potential, that we have little choice but to explore the possibility of securing outside investment from the right person(s),” they said.

“Grovemoor have over the last few seasons provided a ‘back-stop’ / guaranteed cash cushion to be drawn down if required by Cork City FC.

“To date this provision has not been needed but as a board we have been given assurances that such cash cushion will continue to be available for the coming season, providing the club with an added layer of financial security, which will be helpful given the adjustment period we will have during our return to competing in the Premier Division.

Alton added: “It is of course a source of frustration that the ownership situation has not yet been fully resolved. All parties entered into the call-option agreement in good faith, but with the passage of time a number of issues have presented themselves that have prevented an ultimate resolution around the takeover, namely the sad passing of Grovemoor’s owner, Trevor Hemmings.

“Nevertheless, the board’s decision to initially enter into the agreement with Grovemoor, and the subsequent ratification of the call-option agreement by our shareholders was and still remains to be the correct decision, with our club being in a much stronger financial position as a result.

“Fundamentally as a club and board of management we must now proceed with the running of the football club under the fan-ownership business model, whilst we are always looking at the potential for new revenue generation and prudent opportunities for investment. Of course, any decision taken by us as a Board will always be guided by the views of the shareholders of Cork City FC.”

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