New Bray Wanderers regime will take patient route to joining elite

New Bray Wanderers regime will take patient route to joining elite

Cabinteely FC chairman Tony Richardson (right), with Pat Devlin speaking at yesterday’s Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely press conference at the Carlisle Grounds. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Tony Richardson could have easily got carried away yesterday celebrating his 57th birthday by buying a football club but he’s tempering expectations about the new Bray Wanderers era.

He had a controlling interest in another First Division club, Cabinteely, but saw an opportunity to take over their near neighbours, creating a force to reach the top of Irish football.

Although the playing budget will be increased by 30%, he is prepared to be patient in achieving the aim.

Limerick owner Pat O’Sullivan reputedly lost €6m and Waterford’s benefactor Lee Power reputedly just under half that in chasing the dream of rising from a second tier side into one competing at the top of the Premier for the golden egg of European qualification.

Richardson has got a wily character to spearhead the football side in Pat Devlin.

A founding member of Bray in 1985, he led the Seagulls to FAI Cup success in 1990 and 1999. He’d been director of football at Cabinteely since the start of 2017 and his return marks a homecoming.

Richardson’s timeline on Devlin’s intention to “compete with Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians” may differ but he does foresee success coming to a club stabilised over the past three years by departing chairman Niall O’Driscoll.

“We have observed clubs throwing money at it in the last couple of years, saying ‘let’s get to Europe’,” noted Richardson, who raised €50m in funding for his company Venn Life Sciences before hitting the jackpot in a sell-off.

“The upper end of the Premier Division is ultra-competitive and there are clubs at the lower end who may invest to compete.

“I think that is a dangerous place to be right now and I’m very comfortable with the approach we are going to take.

“We are not in a rush. If we have some success and find ourselves in the Premier Division then great and we will deal with that.

“We will be taking a sensible, steady, sustainable approach to how we are going to build the club.

“Certainly, this is not chucking millions at it and hoping that it sticks, hoping we get promoted and then into Europe. I’m not going anywhere in the next five years, I’m happy to commit to this for that timeframe.”

Devlin said he offered Bray boss Gary Cronin a place on his backroom team but the part-time element didn’t suit. His trusty sidekick and Bray legend, Eddie Gormley, along with former English Championship striker Paul Heffernan are part of his coaching staff.

There had been discussion around a name change but the Bray Wanderers brand will remain, a title extending to the underage squads that will also merge.

“The biggest challenge now is to get out of a First Division that is extremely tough,” said the 68-year-old. “It’s now countrywide with Galway, Treaty, Cork and Waterford competing for promotion.

“Tony is a football man and wants to push on.

“I really think, for the first time in many, many years, that the League of Ireland is going in the right direction.

“I am not giving credit to anybody for that, except the clubs. You look at the FAI Cup final on Sunday and it was a brilliant occasion.

“We are starting to move in the right direction too. Compared to what we were and budgets and all that before with Cabinteely, this is an improvement. Can we be full-time as quickly as possible? That will be the challenge.”

Meanwhile, the league’s top scorer this season, Georgie Kelly, was last night named as the Players FAI (PFAI) Player of the Year. Dawson Devoy won the Young Player and Ryan Brennan the First Division accolade. Gavin Bazunu was voted the overseas player while Heather Payne lifted the women’s trophy.

  • Stephen O’Donnell last night confirmed his exit from FAI Cup winners St Patrick’s Athletic. O’Donnell is set to take up the Dundalk hot-seat.

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