Cork City’s existence as an SSE Airtricity League club was in grave danger until the sale of sell-on clauses relating to Alan Browne and Seán Maguire, it has been revealed.
On Sunday night, Foras, the supporters’ trust which owns the club, held a meeting at the Metropole Hotel to inform members of recent developments. With income problems threatening to scupper City’s chances of securing a licence for the current season, the club was at risk of ceasing to exist.
As a result, they sought assistance from Preston North End, for whom Republic of Ireland internationals Browne and Maguire play, and the surrendering of sell-on clauses secured immediate funding.
Emanating from discussions between the two parties, it became clear that Preston owner Trevor Hemmings – who owns Trabolgan Holiday Centre in East Cork and a stud farm in Kanturk – had an interest in purchasing City. At the members’ meeting, the Foras board told those present that it had become increasingly difficult to secure funding, with problems surrounding the FAI exacerbating the situation. Local Cork businesses had been approached but these moves had not been successful.
While it had been reported that a takeover would effectively be Preston subsuming City, who would become a feeder club, members were told that it is an offer from Hemmings in a personal capacity. Opinions on such a development were mixed, with concerns expressed by some members regarding Hemmings’ advisor, Peter Ridsdale.
It’s likely that another Foras meeting will be held in the coming weeks, with members voting on the sale of the club.
In the meantime, following their 6-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers on Friday, the stern tests keep coming for Cork, as they travel to Dundalk on Monday night.
Rebels boss Neale Fenn isn’t wallowing in his side’s second defeat on the spin, especially given they played most of Friday’s humbling at Tallaght a man down after Deshane Dalling was sent off.
“We have no time to dwell on Friday but I thought we were definitely in the game up to the first goal,” said Fenn.
“After that, a lot of the boys’ heads dropped and for a 10-minute spell we let ourselves down. I think there was a bit of naivety, trying to do the right things but at the wrong time.
“We have to take our most recent meeting against Dundalk last season, along with the first half-hour against Rovers, to Oriel. That’s the way we should have been looking at the challenge.”
Injured pair Cian Coleman and Conor Davis join Dalling on Cork's absent list but Cian Bargary has returned to training after injury.
Rovers won’t have new recruit Rory Gaffney available to bolster their attempt at securing a third straight victory at Waterford.
The Hoops agreed terms with the striker before Saturday’s deadline but, with a medical still to be completed, the Galway native will be in the RSC stand, not on the pitch, for the early 7pm kick-off.
Despite their demolition job on Cork, Rovers are light on striker options and will are hopeful a 30-year-old returning from five years in the English lower leagues can resolve the shortage.
They will be expected to follow up wins over Bohemians and Cork by beating a Waterford side still finding their feet. All but three of the 14 players used by Blues' boss Alan Reynolds in Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Bohemians were drafted in this season.
Hoops boss Stephen Bradley won’t want any shocks ahead of Friday’s visit of champions Dundalk to Tallaght.
Last year’s top two are the only sides to have taken full points from their opening pair of fixtures.
“Not many teams will go out and put six past Cork as Rovers did on Friday,” noted Reynolds, who will be without Scott Allardice and Michael O’Connor through injury. “Rovers are a top side and this will be a big challenge for our boys.”
Elsewhere, Keith Long is reliant on his enlarged Bohemians squad to negotiate the blitz of early season fixtures.
Last season’s European qualification generated funds for the Gypsies' boss to deepen his panel.
His five changes from the opening day defeat against Shamrock Rovers helped deliver a 2-0 victory against Waterford on Friday.
They go again on Monday against a Sligo Rovers side still searching for a first point.
“We’ve a big squad for a reason,” said Long. “There’s some strength and depth this season and it’s nice to have those options available.”
Andy Lyons returns from suspension and Stephen McGuinness will keep his place goal as James Talbot remains sidelined with an injury.
Sligo boss Liam Buckley could have Alex Cooper available at Dalymount Park if his international clearance is granted in time.
He’s definitely without injury victims Danny Kane, John Mahon, Regan Donelon and Lewis Banks.
“There’s no sympathy in this game and we have to improve,” Buckley said.
Stephen O’Donnell will be without suspended defender Ollie Younger for St Patrick’s Athletic’s meeting with Derry City at Inchicore.
Shelbourne boss Ian Morris has signalled his intention to rotate his side for the trip to unbeaten Finn Harps. “You’ve got to look at the workloads players are accumulating, and there may be some games that are suited to different players with different abilities,” said the manager of the top-flight newcomers.
Monday's Premier Division fixtures (7.45pm unless stated): Waterford v Shamrock Rovers (7pm); Bohemians v Sligo Rovers; Dundalk v Cork City; St. Patrick’s Athletic v Derry City; Finn Harps v Shelbourne (8pm).