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Estar
11/12/2003, 6:32 PM
KILKENNY CITY may have finished bottom of the First Division this season and 22nd of the 22 clubs but if there was a financial table they'd be near the top.

The canny Cats operate on a simple business model according to founder member and General Manager Jim Rhatigan.

"We believe in the principle that if you take in 2 you don't spend 3," he says.

Last season, Kilkenny's budget was 1,500 per week and that figure included wages, food, travel, laundry and all other footballing expenses.

"Some weeks it dropped as low as 750," admits Rhatigan, who says the club has learned from past experiences.

"We've had our moments of madness and been burnt in the past but we have learned from that. We would prefer to put our money into ground development rather than give the money to footballers.

"We are concentrating on building the club from the bottom and developing local players. We won't jeopardise that."

Over the past decade Buckley Park has been turned into one of the top grounds in the Eircom League and is now regularly used for under-age internationals by the FAI.

Work on a new dressing-room complex will commence in January and, while the club has received 70 per cent funding from the Department of Sports and Tourism, Rhatigan admits there is still a lot of work to raise the other 30 per cent locally.

The club also has a five-acre site on the edge of Kilkenny which it plans to turn into a School of Excellence while manager Ger Bickerstaff will spend the next few weeks coaching local side Piltown as part of the club's commitment to developing football in the county.

"Our under-21 team is locally based and finished third in the Munster section of the league ahead of Waterford which gives us hope for the future," said Rhatigan.

"We didn't have a crystal ball but what we are doing is exactly what the UEFA Licence is looking for. We are prepared to take short-term pain in return for long-term gain."

Kilkenny don't intend being on the bottom forever and Rhatigan says that the club's think-tank, which is made up of several directors, will sit down together in January to plan out

the future direction of the club.

"We may invest a little more in the playing side of the club but we'll only commit as much as we can afford."