Lee Power hails Waterford progress

After watching his Swindon Town side plummet into English League Two earlier this month, owner Lee Power is hoping his Waterford FC side can bring him better news this weekend.

Lee Power hails Waterford progress

Londoner Power took over at Waterford when it seemed the club could go out of business, and has seen the south-east club progress to the summit of the First Division, and they now face a top-of-the-table clash at Cobh Ramblers on Saturday, a massive fixture in the promotion battle.

“It’s been a whirlwind situation for us here at Waterford,” said Power, who played for Ireland’s U21s in the 1990s, during a professional career which took him to clubs across England and Scotland, most notably Norwich. “We are only halfway through the season but if you would have told me that we would be in this position I would have snapped your hand off.”

“Everything that we hoped for has gone according to plan. The work behind the scenes with the players and management is fantastic. The support really has been unbelievable and I couldn’t be happier with how things are going.

“The attendances here at the RSC have been phenomenal. I expected that there would be an increase but I didn’t expect this. I was told that we would get 1,500 to 2,000 and that it would increase more if we are near the top so I have no reason to disbelieve it.

“I’ve spoken to the management and the players so it’s been a real help to their success to date. Long may it continue that way.”

Waterford brought in some high-profile additions on and off the field ahead of the new season, with Pat Fenlon arriving as director of football and Alan Reynolds as head coach while players inward included Kenny Browne and Mark O’Sullivan from Cork City.

And Power is pleading with the Waterford business people to back that investment with their support. “It’s like with any football club. It has cost hundreds of thousands to clear the debts that were here and it’s also cost a lot of money to put a squad in place that are challenging for promotion to the Premier Division.

“As the owner I’m pleased to do that and I knew that I had to do that but with the younger teams now part of the remit from the FAI, there is huge costs with that. I agree that it has to be done but it costs money. We need more people to help support the younger teams. They are the future of this football club and we need to understand that they play a massive part in what we are trying to do.”

Power says Waterford FC needs to be self-sustainable. “It’s difficult to run a football club because most supporters just want success but success costs a lot of money. They forget it needs to run within its means otherwise it falls over. This football club will be no different in years to come.

“I understand that it needs investment at the start which I’ve done and I will continue that investment until we reach the goal that we have set out to achieve which is to get to the top flight.

“But it will come to a stage when I’m long gone that this club can sit and run itself.”

Stephen Henderson’s Cobh side go into the game in a rich vein of form, having won four of their last five in the league, including last week’s impressive win away to UCD.

Henderson is full of praise for his squad for getting themselves into their current position, considering the vast difference in budgets between his side and the league leaders.

“For us to be halfway through the season and to be two points off a side who have put in a huge amount of investment, I can’t speak highly enough of our squad to still be on their coattails,” said Henderson.

“At the start of the campaign our main goals were to try and get through the season, to try and keep the club afloat... to have the opportunity to go top of the table on Saturday night, I just can’t compliment our players enough.

“It is only halfway through the season. We can’t run away with ourselves. We have to settle down, work hard, and see if we can do it over the course of the full season.”

On the injury front, Karl Caulfield misses out with the quad muscle injury that has seen him miss recent games, although the midfielder is close to a return. Cian Kingston remains absent due to an ankle injury. Captain Christopher McCarthy is available after returning from suspension.

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