Latest news from the South East is that the Blues have put a firm offer to the Waterford City Council over the purchasing of the RSC with an alternative green field site on the outskirts of the city as a Plan B.

This article appeared earlier on in the week in the Munster Express, but things have changed a bit.

Ambitious Blues
attempt to build
for the future
`We must control our own destiny' - Chairman, Gerry O'Brien

Report by John O'Connor

This week, Waterford United stands at a crossroads in its long history as board members come to grips with decisions that will shape the future of the club for generations to come.

The board has a very short window of time in which to bid for a parcel of land on the outskirts of the city that would become the Blues' new home. While it could only happen on a phased basis, the ambition would be to construct a new stadium within a commercial leisure centre that would pay for itself and generate funds for the club.

The land itself would cost less than 1 million euro but the entire project carries a price-tag of a massive 6 to 8 million euro and would require commercial investment from the private sector.

The Munster Express understands that the directors of Waterford United are unanimous in their belief that the days of a stand-alone stadium being used for match days and training are long gone. Such premises create no revenue and are a huge drain on club resources.

Said Club Chairman, Gerry O'Brien: ``If we do not act now, we will be in the same position in 20 years time. The harsh reality is that we will not be able to stay in National League football without self generating revenue.''

If the new stadium comes to fruition, it will have a restaurant and bar, all-weather training facilities that can be rented out to other clubs, a children's crèche and an office complex that could also be used, if they wished, by the Waterford Junior League and Schoolboy League organisations.

At present, Waterford United has senior and Under 21 teams and operates Waterford Area Partnership and Fas schemes. The club would also like to run Under 18 and Under 16 squads that would be a nursery for the senior side and the board has a vision of an FAI Centre of Excellence being located at a new ground.


When contacted by the Munster Express, Waterford United Chairman, Gerry O'Brien, confirmed that the club was in negotiations regarding land for a new stadium close to the city. He also confirmed that negotiations were on-going with Waterford City Council over a new lease at the RSC.

Mr. O'Brien said the board had to act because the only way forward for National League clubs was to control their own destiny and to become as self sufficient as possible. Put bluntly, they needed to own and develop the RSC or else secure a new lease at the City Council owned facility while they developed their own stadium.

The Munster Express understands from its own sources that United's ten year lease at the RSC was up last September. The local authority initially offered them a new one-year lease but, at this stage in the negotiations, the offer stands at a three-year lease at 5,000 euro per annum to be paid in advance each year.

Mr. O'Brien said he did not want to comment on that situation as discussions were continuing but he did confirm that the club's lease had expired last September. He said he would like to address rumours that the club had paid nothing for the use of the RSC during those 10 years. ``In association with the FAI, lighting worth 100,000 punts was installed which is now part of the fixtures at the ground and that amounts to an annual rent of 10,000 punts'', he explained.

However, while Mr. O'Brien stresses that Waterford United needs the RSC for the immediate future he does not see it as a viable long-term solution unless the club could actually buy the premises.

`A' licence

``It is my understanding that of 8 million euro in grant-aid, earmarked for the Kilbarry complex, none of that money will be spent on the RSC'', said Mr. O'Brien.

``As things stand, it would take at least 800,000 euro to bring the RSC up to UEFA `A Licence' standard. Required is a further 300 covered seats, four extra turn-stiles, facilities for disabled people, medical and control rooms, emergency lighting, etc. and there appears to be no hope of that happening at present.''

The Chairman pointed out that there was FAI/National League funding available for capital projects but, because United did not own the RSC, it did not qualify for any of that money.

While Mr. O'Brien was complimentary about the staff at the RSC, he said it was still tough going being a tenant. ``For instance, we don't have a key to the premises and important matters such as pitch maintenance have to be handled through third parties and, no matter how co-operative the RSC management is, it is still an unsatisfactory way of doing things.''

Another major problem for Waterford United concerns team training and the club's new Director of Football, Paul McGrath, said last week that, not alone did the players deserve better, the present situation was totally unacceptable and unsatisfactory.

At present, United are restricted to the Kilbarry side of the complex for training but that area is often flooded and the club has to hope that space is available at clubs like Hibernians FC and Waterpark RFC. The United management understands that the Garda Soccer Club will be using Kilbarry from now on and that will cause further difficulties for the Blues.