Cairde Chorcaí chairman Ted Owens has welcomed the new ‘One Cork’ group which has been formed to oversee GAA finances on Leeside, even though it means “the end of Cairde Chorcaí in its independent guise”.
“The new group means this is the end of Cairde Chorcaí as an independent body. However, Cairde Chorcaí will be a central part of One Cork — there’ll be a supporters club which will be a grouping within One Cork, and we have a clear understanding that the supporters club’s main priority will continue to be team performance, facilities, and underage coaching.
“We won’t confine our efforts to that. There’s a lot of expertise within that supporters group, expertise we intend to offer the board in terms of general revenue generation.
“In addition, we will have an influence on how that money is spent.
“We realise that if we don’t have a situation where the Páirc Uí Chaoimh debt and the general operational debt isn’t sorted, then we don’t have a successful Cork GAA.”
The One Cork initiative follows intensive negotiations, says Owens. “The easy thing for us would have been to stay out of the tent, but we’ve decided we’ll work together.
“We’ve agreed to do that on the basis of transparency, and we also have formal terms of agreement which have been negotiated over a period of 12 months.
“There have been at least 12 meetings to organise this and there were occasions when we were ready to walk away, but we have agreed, following assurances from the board of greater transparency on matters of finance and expenditure, that this is what is best for Cork GAA — the best way to ensure that supporters will be travelling to Dublin for All-Ireland finals.”
The supporters club initiative is a significant one, he adds.
“Earlier this year we reached out to ordinary Cork supporters, no matter where they were living, who didn’t have access to large amounts of money but who wanted to be part of a network of Cork supporters.
“We have a membership scheme for €50 a year, and there are associated benefits — draws to become mascots, access to training, and so forth.
“We want a more inclusive atmosphere. For various reasons, some Cork supporters felt divorced from the Cork County Board, that there was a ‘them and us’ situation.
We want a situation where we’re all working together for one purpose — the promotion of Gaelic games at underage level and senior inter-county level.
“Also, One Cork will support Cork ladies football and camogie, which is important. We’re trying to encourage links between ladies football, camogie, and the men’s side, and there have been good developments on that front in recent months in terms of access to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and so on.”