Cork City boss John Caulfield says it will be a “scandal” if the proposed €10m Glanmire Centre of Excellence falls through, warning it could threaten the very survival of the club.
The Glanmire project in Brooklodge envisages Cork City as anchor tenants but is based upon a €5m funding injection from Government. A decision on that funding is expected in the autumn. Sports Minister Shane Ross has indicated that funding for football projects will be put on ice until the FAI’s corporate governance issues are resolved, leaving the project in limbo.
Speaking ahead of Cork’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trip to Derry City tomorrow night, Caulfield stressed the importance of Glanmire to the club’s future, with the club’s current training set-up not a long-term option.
“I think with Glanmire, there has been so much progression and the project is so far down the line, it’d be a scandal if it didn’t go ahead at this stage,” said Caulfield.
“For this club, we need somewhere we have a training base and training facility for all our teams,” said Caulfield. “At the moment, we’ve been blessed that McCarthy Developments have allowed us to stay here (the Bishopstown training ground) because we’ve nowhere. We’ve been using CIT and they’ve been brilliant to us and fantastic to allow all our underage teams to train there.
Will Glanmire go through? I honestly don’t know. I would presume there are a lot of positives. I know the planning permission has been signed off, I know the FAI have signed a 99-year deal. The indications are it will happen at some stage. Maybe the money might be slowed up, hopefully it won’t.
“We have to see the new FAI board and what’s going to happen over the next couple of months but if we can’t get a training base or get involved with someone where there is proper training facilities, we won’t be going any place in the next few years because we won’t be here for too much longer.
“So for us, it is critical. In Cork soccer it’s probably to the detriment that no League of Ireland club has ever had their own training facilities. If you have, it saves costs, you can develop. If you haven’t got that, you can’t be a professional club. In the next two or three years the club will need a training base or it won’t be able to survive.”
The state of flux at the top of the FAI has also affected other areas of the game, with Dublin’s two schoolboys leagues canvassing opinion from clubs on rolling back plans to put the schoolboy season in line with the League of Ireland and adopt a ‘summer’ season. The Cork Schoolboys League are keeping a close eye on events in Dublin.
For his part, Caulfield is in favour of a summer schedule.
“When you look at schoolboy, and you look at the pitches and everything, we end up with a lot of games in November, December, January, February not getting played because the weather is so bad.
“Ten years ago I might have thought ‘no’, but now I would think for U8 to U16, summer football would be fantastic. You’ve seven bright evenings. Yes, you are in competition with other games but other sports seasons are all-round now anyway.
I don’t think adult junior football staying at winter matters because that’s a social game but for underage and for kids, summer football is a great opportunity to play every week.
“When you look around the city, some clubs have very good facilities — but not many. There’s loads of clubs with one pitch catering for seven or eight teams. In bad weather that’s no good to you so I’d have thought that move would be a good move and summer football would have been a step forward for that age group.”
Caulfield is gearing up for another tough weekend as he bids to halt a Premier Division slide against a Derry City team who have been one of the season’s surprise packages under Declan Devine. With a home clash with Finn Harps coming just four days later for the Leesiders, the pressure is on to steady to ship.
Caulfield wlll be without Matty Gillam, Alan Bennett, and Cian Murphy for the trip to the Brandywell, while Daire O’Connor and Karl Sheppard are doubtful. “Daire O’Connor got some game-time the other day, and Karl Sheppard got game time,” said Caulfield. “Both are tight for Friday but we expect them to be ready for Monday.”