Rams on the ropes as FAI reject ground proposal

COBH Ramblers are facing a real threat of life outside the League of Ireland after the FAI board last night rejected a proposal from the club aimed at safeguarding the future of senior football in the Cork town.

With just one week to go before the deadline for applications to the independent licensing committee, it is understood the club, relegated from the Premier Division this season, face an uphill struggle in their bid to secure a First Division license, which would mean the end of its 25-year association with the league.

The club had voted a fortnight ago to accept a deal that would see the footballing body buy St Colman’s Park and lease it back to the League of Ireland outfit over a period of two years.

At an EGM, members voted at the third time of asking in favour of the proposal aimed at wiping out a €500,000 debt.

However, in a statement released last night, the FAI board said: “It could not, under proper league governance, provide financial assistance to any single club involved in the League of Ireland that would assist it in obtaining a license.

“Nonetheless the FAI board agreed that it would look at a financial solution to keep St Colman’s Park in football, post the club licensing process.”

Cobh chairman Barry Walsh last night accepted the decision, saying that although he was disappointed, he was not surprised. “I was never confident, to be honest,” said Walsh.

“We completely understand the FAI board’s point of view. They can’t be seen to help out one particular club because that would naturally send out the wrong signal to the rest of the clubs. It would set a precedent and we expected them to avoid that scenario.

“There are several clubs in trouble and they could not be seen to be digging one club out. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. They have indicated their commitment to keeping football at St Colman’s Park.”

Asked how he felt the licensing committee would now look on their future in league football, Walsh responded that he was optimistic despite being completely in the dark. “I don’t have an iota how it will go. We have one or two items to send to them for the application and we’ll see how that goes. We’ll work away and hope for the best. It’s all we can do.

“The main focus for us to hold on to is that football will survive in Cobh. I’m always optimistic, you have to be in this game.”

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