A west Waterford soccer club, preparing for 50th anniversary celebrations next year, faces an uncertain future after one of the playing pitches it has occupied for more than 25 years was purchased from a receiver.
Dungarvan AFC plays in the Premier Division of the Waterford Junior League but has 27 other teams, facilitating under-age boys’ and girls sides, and also runs a Saturday academy for children aged six to 10.
The club, with an affiliated involvement of about 1,000 people, began leasing the Dungarvan former Waterford Crystal playing pitch at Kilrush for €1,000 annually during the late 1980s. When the glass factory closed in 2009, receivers Deloitte dismissed the agreement as non-binding.
The club ceased paying rent but continued using the field, which is adjacent to its own grounds. It also restored an adjacent area as a training facility. Last November, the club ignored instructions from Deloitte to vacate the premises.
The field is zoned, until 2018, for leisure and recreation and Waterford Council has repeatedly stated that its status will not change.
The site has been purchased from the receiver by Limerick company Periodic Holdings Ltd which acquired it through a subsidiary, Zinc Properties Ltd, that deals with property rentals.
Periodic Holdings also owns Shannonside Galvanizing, a leading exponent of hot dip galvanizing, steel stock holding, and fabrication.
Shareholders of Zinc Properties are John Hegarty, Frank O’Shaughnessy, and Tony Donnellan.
According to abridged financial statements for 2014, Zinc Properties accrued losses in 2013 and 2014.
Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who lives locally, said he had been been in contact with the council and had demanded it make clear to the receiver that the pitch would not be used for anything other than soccer club purposes.
Last January, the club was given until February 9, by law firm A&L Goodbody on behalf of the receiver, to make an offer for the three-acre site, which backs onto Kilrush Park, the club’s home since 1980.
“Deloitte failed repeatedly to respond when we sought to value a derelict clubhouse on the site,” said Dungarvan AFC chairman David Walsh. “So we submitted separate bids for the field, and for the field and its clubhouse. But the receiver said the offer was a day too late.”
Zinc properties director Mr Hegarty said the company hopes to employ up to 40 workers in due course, but indicated that the site’s future uses remain optional while two years of ground decontamination and monitoring continues.
He declined to comment on the playing field issue.
Meanwhile, Mr Walsh said the club desperately needed access to at least two fields if it was to maintain its current status.
“If anything, we need a third field,” he said.
“I would appeal to the new owners to make contact and clarify where we stand.”
With five teams competing in the Waterford leagues, including premier and two junior sides in divisions 1A and third, the club also has a number of youth teams in various competitions.
Two of its girls’ teams play in under-age categories of the Waterford Women’s League.
Founded in 1966, the club has an astro-turf pitch, bar, clubhouse, and dressing rooms and, in that time, has gone from strength to strength both on and off the pitch.
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