Coronavirus crisis puts the brakes on Cork City takeover talks

“We’re just tapping the brakes now, we haven’t pulled up the handbrake.”

Coronavirus crisis puts the brakes on Cork City takeover talks

It’s been a week of “rolling with the punches” for Cork City chairman Declan Carey.

The league is facing a suspension of at least three months, with each club playing nine fewer games, and uncertainty over the EA Sports Cup.

Cork City, already in choppy financial waters, on Saturday announced the decision to temporarily lay off all players and a number of staff and coaches from the end of this week. The coronavirus crisis has also delayed takeover talks, which had been ongoing with Trevor Hemmings.

On the cancelled round of fixtures: “That’s going to result in five less home games for us. It’s extremely difficult, we had a tough first couple of fixtures and now we find out we’re losing home games against Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Waterford, massive games that’s would’ve brought in huge revenue to the club. We’re scrambling now again. It’s a difficult financial position to be in but we’re doing all we can to mitigate it.”

The cost: “Early estimates, we’re talking somewhere from €100,000 to €150,000 for all the extra home games, not having the match sponsorships and hospitality packages. We’re still working it out but it’ll be somewhere in that range of losses. We’ll have to try and offset that somewhere in our budget and look for funds. We'll update our members and shareholders as we get more clarity and more information. It’s a difficult one. I think we’ll be fine up until the point when the league resumes in June.”

On the FAI’s decision: “We had plans to re-release season tickets minus the two games we’ve already played at home and then the FAI go and whip the five home games from us on a day's notice. Aside from Covid-19, we’ve also got the governing body’s decisions to deal with as well.

“We had the press release ready to go on Friday and we had the online system all set up. We’ll see how things go over the next couple of days, I’m sure there’ll be more things we’ll have to deal with. We’ve come to expect it now really. We’re all on it. It’s firefighting at its finest is the best way to put it.”

On temporarily laying off players: “We can’t function as a business as we normally do, bringing in 3,000 or 4,000 people every second Friday. If you take that away, we don’t have a business. Essentially, we have to look at the staff and players and we’re making some very difficult decisions on it.”

On fundraising efforts: “We’re currently doing an online streaming platform where we show classic Cork City matches, rare footage of some of the big games we’ve played in our history like Galatasaray, Bayern Munich, when we won the league back in 2005. We’re trying to ramp up our online shop and merchandising too. We’re hoping to get our new away jersey available for pre-order in the coming days as well so that should bring in some vital funds.”

On helping players return home after the initial cancellations: “We did our best to support players who wanted to return home because there was such a lack of clarity around what was going to happen. Their families could be based around Ireland or even the UK, and one from Belgium as well, Liam Bossin. We took the decision to give the players training off before the FAI gave us the direction to do that. We knew what was coming down the line.”

On the takeover talks: “We’re still working with Grovemore Limited and Mr Trevor Hemmings on his interest in the club. We’ve had minimal contact with them over the last couple of weeks. Mr Hemmings had a number of horses running at Cheltenham and they have their own situation to worry about. Preston North End are in the play-offs and all that is up in the air as well.

“They have a lot to be focusing on and so do we but that relationship is still very much open and alive. We’ll see how that goes over the coming months but we’ll be asking our members to make a decision on that, hopefully by the summer. We’ll see what happens. The current Covid-19 crisis has certainly put the brakes on that but we’re just tapping the brakes now, we haven’t pulled up the handbrake.”

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