Former Cork City manager John Caulfield has held talks with investors “actively looking” to get involved in the League of Ireland but an approach for the Turner’s Cross club is not imminent.
Caulfield has been out of football since being dismissed in May, after his hugely impressive spell in the City hotseat came to a disappointing end.
Since then he has been linked with, among others, Premier Division Waterford, and has also been strongly linked with a new Kerry-based League of Ireland club.
Last night Caulfield confirmed he has held talks with “several” clubs and investors and revealed he came very close to returning to football last month but that the opportunity just wasn’t right.
“I’ve been involved in a number of projects but at the moment i feel that the whole package just hasn’t been right yet,” he said. “Maybe four weeks ago did I think I was going to be somewhere else? I did, but ultimately it’s about people putting up the money.
“They all want to talk — the advantage I have is from working with a strong board at Cork City for five years, I have a fair idea of how a club should run and what should happen but at the end of the day the board have to make decisions, and do the right thing.
“If people want to get involved in a new club or an old club, there has to be sincerity. One, they have to have money and two, they have to do things in the right way and if you think you’re going to just take a return after a year or two years you’re not. That’s the reality.”
With regards to a return to City as part of any new investment, Caulfield said that would not be happening in the near future.
“Short-term it’s not going to happen. There are no talks ongoing, not directly on that. The club is in a different position now because it’s 100% FORAS-owned.
“I don’t really want to comment on the club at the moment. But there are genuine people with a genuine interest in the club who are looking to invest, from what I can see.”
Caulfield said businesses are keeping an eye on the League of Ireland, and believed the proposed “Europa League 2” has piqued interest. “Football has grown and the European money is huge. People out there can see that. There are models out there that prove you can make money and do well. There’s people actively looking to get involved with clubs.
“I’ve met with a few different consortiums over the last four months and I have spoken to clubs outside the league who wanted advice.
“There are people who want to get involved, who seem to have genuine context money. I’m around football a good bit and as I always say, until it’s signed you never know, but there are business guys out there who can see it’s well possible to run clubs if you run it right and have a bit of success.
“Potentially there’s money there if you have a five year plan or three year plan, if you do it right. There has been interest but it hasn’t been right yet.
“If you’re asking me do I think clubs will be taken over in the next 12 to 18 months in Ireland, I’d say absolutely.”
Meanwhile Joey O’Brien of Shamrock Rovers was yesterday named SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for October.
The experienced defender was immense for the Hoops in the final weeks of the season — scoring against UCD and excelling at the Aviva Stadium as Stephen Bradley’s side ended the club’s 32-year wait to lift the FAI Cup.
“It’s been a great few weeks,” the lifelong Rovers fan said. “Winning the FAI Cup was a nice way to end the season.
“When I came back to Ireland, the only thing I wanted to do was play for Shamrock Rovers. I spoke to the manager and Stephen McPhail and we talked about winning silverware with the club.
“Luckily, we’ve been able to do that. I had loads of family members at the game who are Shamrock Rovers fans and you could see just how much it meant to them.”
The 33-year-old O’Brien picked up more votes than Rovers team-mate Roberto Lopes, who was runner-up, and third-placed Michael Duffy of Dundalk, to claim the award.