Cork City’s future remains unclear after takeover talks stall

ANOTHER day and yet another deadline has passed for Cork City without a breakthrough in the ongoing takeover talks.

The bidding consortium had set 12 noon yesterday as a cut-off point for making a final decision on whether a deal could be reached but, having at one stage in the afternoon reported that “significant progress” had been made, it wasn’t until last night that the Quintas Group, on behalf of Peter Gray, Michael O’Connell and FORAS, confirmed negotiations had stalled.

The consortium said that an offer had been made to owner Tom Coughlan earlier in the day but claimed there had been “no meaningful engagement in relation to the bid”.

Contacted by the Irish Examiner last night, Tom Coughlan confirmed that he hadn’t signed up to a deal but indicated that, in contrast to the frustration being expressed by the other side, he was satisfied that progress was being made. “Business has to be done properly and that’s what’s being done by my advisors,” he said.

While the consortium has not given up on the chances of reaching a deal with Coughlan and finalising their application for a Premier Division license in time to meet Monday’s deadline, it’s believed that concerns about the lack of progress being made saw the supporters’ group FORAS on the brink of leaving the consortium yesterday to focus exclusively on their own First Division application.

However, FORAS were convinced to hold the line and, according to a statement last night from Quintas, the other parties in the consortium have now turned their attention to the FORAS application, which was always considered a Plan B in the event that the takeover – and with it any realistic chance of a place in the Premier Division next season – failed to materialise.

Earlier in the day, Cork City announced the appointment of barrister James Duggan as interim chairman, a position which has been vacant at the club since Coughlan stepped down from the post having failed in a High Court bid to overturn an FAI ban for bringing the game into disrepute.

In a statement, the club described Mr Duggan as a “well established and well known figure in Cork legal circles” and expressed gratitude that he had “volunteered his services “to ensure the smooth and transparent transition of ownership of the club.”

Mr Duggan was quoted as saying: “My position as interim chairman is to ensure that a change of ownership proceeds smoothly and in doing so ensure that long term football in Cork City is safeguarded. I have therefore agreed to act as Interim Chairman of Cork City Football club for a period of four weeks from the date hereof.”

What form Cork City Football Club will be in four days’ time never mind four weeks is anyone’s guess but as the takeover bid now rolls on into the weekend, it’s understood that the consortium is anxious to get matters resolved, one way or another, by tomorrow night at the latest.

However, brinkmanship has been a signature of Cork City’s dealings off the pitch in recent years and so it will not come as a surprise to anyone if this long-running saga goes all the way to the wire on Monday, the day when, barring any last minute developments, the club is due to have a winding-up order lifted in the High Court and the Independent Licensing Committee makes its final decision on Cork football’s League of Ireland future.

Meanwhile, on the pitch last night Cork City beat Wexford Youths 1-0 in a pre-season friendly with Graham Cummins, who has scored in every pre-season game, getting the winner.

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