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Thread: Cork FORAS vote to sell the club to Preston North End owner

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    Cork City were the poster boys for supporter-ownership in Ireland. Part of European-wide projects to look at how to increase supporter input into the game etc.

    It's therefore hugely disappointing that they've ended up in a position where they've had to flog themselves off to become a rich man's play thing. Which is precisely the sort of thing they've been advocating against in principle for years now.

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    My god this video and some of the quotes in it haven’t aged well at all...

    https://youtu.be/9t-Iq-2uiTU

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    Quote Originally Posted by EatYerGreens View Post
    Cork City were the poster boys for supporter-ownership in Ireland. Part of European-wide projects to look at how to increase supporter input into the game etc.

    It's therefore hugely disappointing that they've ended up in a position where they've had to flog themselves off to become a rich man's play thing. Which is precisely the sort of thing they've been advocating against in principle for years now.
    It's a shame a Rovers type hybrid wasnt on the table. The idea would have to have been suggested if rejected. I wish Dundalk had a supporter liason appointed to the board, I hope Cork manage to get a concession on that!

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    This entire story reflects very poorly on all Cork supporters. How old is this current Cork City maybe 10 years? I'm sure they will have a honeymoon period but I wonder will this current Cork City be added to the long list of clubs in Cork that came and died? I hope not

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    Its been a mad crazy 2020, but even the contrasting fortunes between Cork and Dundalk was unthinkable just a few seasons ago - one club playing Arsenal in Europe while the other has been relegated and have had to sell up due to finance issues. There was nothing between the 2 sides really when both were relatively recently dominating league and cup. We all know LoI is a rollercoaster, that any club could go in to an almost terminal decline from league winners to relegation fodder but I doubt anyone would have expected this. Although it was observed that when Caulfields teams struggled and crowds were down that there would have to be a shortfall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesta99 View Post
    Its been a mad crazy 2020, but even the contrasting fortunes between Cork and Dundalk was unthinkable just a few seasons ago - one club playing Arsenal in Europe while the other has been relegated and have had to sell up due to finance issues.
    Sorry, how was that ever unthinkable?

    This is the League of Ireland what you have described is near enough its natural cycle and there are no shortage of examples of almost exactly this type of thing.

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    I can imagine how it wss put to the members. If u dont vote for this we wont even get a team on the pitch next year that will get us out of the first division and are looking at years in the doldrums.....vote yes and we will be back chasing promotion next year.
    Most fans will vote for hope

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCWA View Post
    Sorry, how was that ever unthinkable?

    This is the League of Ireland what you have described is near enough its natural cycle and there are no shortage of examples of almost exactly this type of thing.
    There have been vanity projects like Dublin City and Sporting Fingal, the like of which there was generally skepticism. Rightly or wrongly there is still a question mark over Dundalk. Cork on the other hand were fan owned, prudent and financially conservative. There was no land grab, or property developers involved like Drogheda or formally Bray. To have been in a position of regular large gate income, Year on year in Europe and to have been able to sell players for substantial rather than token fees. Double winners a couple of season ago, well go back to the start of 2018 Cork would probably have been considered the last club to end up facing not getting a licence due to debt or that FORAS would consider selling - due to past experiences and the pride there was in the ownership model with an insistance that history would not be repeated and the club's wellbeing would always come before a speculate to accumulate risk. CCFC were challanging for the league in probably the most sustainable manner than any club. The cracks started to appear when the board caved to their managers budget demands, to the extent that paying off staff to go wasnt possible. The top supported club in the league, again a significant source of pride, fell away by over 50% after a poor start to a league but as reigning champions. So while the general story is a familiar one I see this as different to most past examples - it is a LoI cycle to the extreme. It could end up being a more sound situation for the club but the manner in which key info was provided to members it seems like there was a far greater emphasis on the need to sell and much less on the pitfalls eg the call option. I know this may be reading between the lines not being a member privy to all info but based on what has been said here. I understand the decision but it just seems a bit railroaded and not at all like the FORAS that battled to keep a LoI club in Cork.

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  10. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesta99 View Post
    There have been vanity projects like Dublin City and Sporting Fingal, the like of which there was generally skepticism. Rightly or wrongly there is still a question mark over Dundalk. Cork on the other hand were fan owned, prudent and financially conservative. There was no land grab, or property developers involved like Drogheda or formally Bray. To have been in a position of regular large gate income, Year on year in Europe and to have been able to sell players for substantial rather than token fees. Double winners a couple of season ago, well go back to the start of 2018 Cork would probably have been considered the last club to end up facing not getting a licence due to debt or that FORAS would consider selling - due to past experiences and the pride there was in the ownership model with an insistance that history would not be repeated and the club's wellbeing would always come before a speculate to accumulate risk. CCFC were challanging for the league in probably the most sustainable manner than any club. The cracks started to appear when the board caved to their managers budget demands, to the extent that paying off staff to go wasnt possible. The top supported club in the league, again a significant source of pride, fell away by over 50% after a poor start to a league but as reigning champions. So while the general story is a familiar one I see this as different to most past examples - it is a LoI cycle to the extreme. It could end up being a more sound situation for the club but the manner in which key info was provided to members it seems like there was a far greater emphasis on the need to sell and much less on the pitfalls eg the call option. I know this may be reading between the lines not being a member privy to all info but based on what has been said here. I understand the decision but it just seems a bit railroaded and not at all like the FORAS that battled to keep a LoI club in Cork.
    I think you are mixing up a few seasons here. We had a good start to the 2018 season and attendances remained high. 2017: 4,559. 2018 4,245, though there was talk at the itme of the crowds being inflated by non attending season ticket holders.

    We faltered in the middle/second half of 2018 and had a poor showing in Europe (though I think the bye in round 2 did more harm than good, and if we had lost to Legia, won against an unseeded team in the second round and then lost to Rosenborg things would look rosier than they did with the bye). Despite the standard of play starting to drop in the second half of 2018 we still reached the FAI Cup final and probably put in our best performance of the four finals but fell short.

    In 2019 our recruitment was awful. We had a reduced budget but it was still relatively high, but the players brought in clearly were not of the necessary standard. Caulfield was let go after a disastrous start, and in hindsight many people wonder if that was the right choice, more so outside the club than in, but things got really toxic on and off the field and even his most diehard fans started to question him. ON the field things were not going well. By the time Caulfield was let go we had 13 points from 14 games and no wins in 8. Including a loss away to UCD and a draw at home to Finn Harps. Crowds were poor and our budgets relied on attendances. I don' tknow what the average attendance was when Caulfield left but we ended the season with an average of 2,505.

    As for our budgets, the idea was that we wouldn't spend above our means but in reality it seems we set aggressive budgets trying to keep up with Dundalk that relied heavily on large attendances, once those attedances fell away we were in trouble. Questions at AGMS on these budgets were sort of waved off. Add to that the unexpected tax issue and we ended up with the 650k debt figure reported in February. There is a lot of anger among FORAS members that we have allowed ourselves to get into the position we are in today. We were proud of what we thought was a sustainable model but it seems that it was not as sustainable as thought and there are not lots of questons about governance and how a board was able to set such high budgets. The question now though is, if the sale goes through, what purpose does FORAS serve.

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  12. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesta99 View Post
    There have been vanity projects like Dublin City and Sporting Fingal, the like of which there was generally skepticism. Rightly or wrongly there is still a question mark over Dundalk. Cork on the other hand were fan owned, prudent and financially conservative. There was no land grab, or property developers involved like Drogheda or formally Bray. To have been in a position of regular large gate income, Year on year in Europe and to have been able to sell players for substantial rather than token fees. Double winners a couple of season ago, well go back to the start of 2018 Cork would probably have been considered the last club to end up facing not getting a licence due to debt or that FORAS would consider selling - due to past experiences and the pride there was in the ownership model with an insistance that history would not be repeated and the club's wellbeing would always come before a speculate to accumulate risk. CCFC were challanging for the league in probably the most sustainable manner than any club. The cracks started to appear when the board caved to their managers budget demands, to the extent that paying off staff to go wasnt possible. The top supported club in the league, again a significant source of pride, fell away by over 50% after a poor start to a league but as reigning champions. So while the general story is a familiar one I see this as different to most past examples - it is a LoI cycle to the extreme. It could end up being a more sound situation for the club but the manner in which key info was provided to members it seems like there was a far greater emphasis on the need to sell and much less on the pitfalls eg the call option. I know this may be reading between the lines not being a member privy to all info but based on what has been said here. I understand the decision but it just seems a bit railroaded and not at all like the FORAS that battled to keep a LoI club in Cork.
    Thanks Nesta, you've summed up exactly what I wanted to ask, but was afraid to in case of not putting it an appropriate manner. That is pretty much how i'd feel.

    I'm stunned by Cork's decision to go down this route to be honest. They've a good academy, a super catchment area, and surely a couple of seasons with breathing space in the graveyard, and allowing kids to prosper, wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if it meant continuing in a fan-owned model paying off the debt?
    Like what I don't understand is that you've got everything that a provincial town needs to be both prudent and successful. A huge catchment area with little to no competition, some prime 3rd level operators in UCC & CIT, while the talent line going through the FAI course in Colaiste Chriost Rí (assuming it's still in operation), the best stadium (just about) and a soccer mad public who are good supporters......it just seems really disappointing that it's turned out this way.
    That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age

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    Quote Originally Posted by El-Pietro View Post
    As for our budgets, the idea was that we wouldn't spend above our means but in reality it seems we set aggressive budgets trying to keep up with Dundalk that relied heavily on large attendances, once those attedances fell away we were in trouble. Questions at AGMS on these budgets were sort of waved off. Add to that the unexpected tax issue and we ended up with the 650k debt figure reported in February. There is a lot of anger among FORAS members that we have allowed ourselves to get into the position we are in today. We were proud of what we thought was a sustainable model but it seems that it was not as sustainable as thought and there are not lots of questons about governance and how a board was able to set such high budgets. The question now though is, if the sale goes through, what purpose does FORAS serve.
    Appreciate your honesty there. Sale or no sale, the question probably remains valid.
    That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingdom View Post
    Appreciate your honesty there. Sale or no sale, the question probably remains valid.
    If there is no sale then the question is a little different. It becomes, what do we need to do to make sure this doesn't happen again, how do we reshape FORAS. If FORAS no longer runs the club then what is its purpose, does it remain in the background in case of a new crisis, does it raise funds for facilities, youth teams? If so how does the general public feel about fund raising for facilities or youth teams that are owned or operated by a billionaire?

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    Quote Originally Posted by El-Pietro View Post
    I think you are mixing up a few seasons here. We had a good start to the 2018 season and attendances remained high. 2017: 4,559. 2018 4,245, though there was talk at the itme of the crowds being inflated by non attending season ticket holders.

    We faltered in the middle/second half of 2018 and had a poor showing in Europe (though I think the bye in round 2 did more harm than good, and if we had lost to Legia, won against an unseeded team in the second round and then lost to Rosenborg things would look rosier than they did with the bye). Despite the standard of play starting to drop in the second half of 2018 we still reached the FAI Cup final and probably put in our best performance of the four finals but fell short.

    In 2019 our recruitment was awful. We had a reduced budget but it was still relatively high, but the players brought in clearly were not of the necessary standard. Caulfield was let go after a disastrous start, and in hindsight many people wonder if that was the right choice, more so outside the club than in, but things got really toxic on and off the field and even his most diehard fans started to question him. ON the field things were not going well. By the time Caulfield was let go we had 13 points from 14 games and no wins in 8. Including a loss away to UCD and a draw at home to Finn Harps. Crowds were poor and our budgets relied on attendances. I don' tknow what the average attendance was when Caulfield left but we ended the season with an average of 2,505.

    As for our budgets, the idea was that we wouldn't spend above our means but in reality it seems we set aggressive budgets trying to keep up with Dundalk that relied heavily on large attendances, once those attedances fell away we were in trouble. Questions at AGMS on these budgets were sort of waved off. Add to that the unexpected tax issue and we ended up with the 650k debt figure reported in February. There is a lot of anger among FORAS members that we have allowed ourselves to get into the position we are in today. We were proud of what we thought was a sustainable model but it seems that it was not as sustainable as thought and there are not lots of questons about governance and how a board was able to set such high budgets. The question now though is, if the sale goes through, what purpose does FORAS serve.
    I could be merging seasons and events, but I think I phrased it badly too referring to 2018. I meant that thinking back to the beginning of 2018 nobody would have seen things pan out the way they did subsequently. Apologies though if I have mixed up a time line although it wouldnt really change the gist.

    I was quite surprised at the time and I'm sure I mentioned it here about where the checks and balances were fpr the board from the membership. Iirc it was explained that a general policy is set by the members and then the board micro manage and set specific budgets eg maybe a budget to challange for the title being a mandate without being specific about limits? It also seemed that the board also acted against the general consensus from members and wondered why they werent held to task. I'd have been furious about that and more so now!! It's not particularly relevant and could be seen as scapegoating previous board members i know, but it was looking from the outside that there were problems - a risk taken that worst case wont happen but did wth on pitch performances. Fan ownership is to be lauded but fans are the worst to react to problems or are blinkered to reality at times. Hence a hybrid model or employing a very strong CEO to be blunt and forthright with facts and figures are needed!!

    FORAS has an essential role still as a proactive, organised, fans' Trust that can lobby or maybe one day step up to the plate again. I really wish Dundak fans had somthing similar on the go.

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  17. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesta99 View Post
    I could be merging seasons and events, but I think I phrased it badly too referring to 2018. I meant that thinking back to the beginning of 2018 nobody would have seen things pan out the way they did subsequently. Apologies though if I have mixed up a time line although it wouldnt really change the gist.

    I was quite surprised at the time and I'm sure I mentioned it here about where the checks and balances were fpr the board from the membership. Iirc it was explained that a general policy is set by the members and then the board micro manage and set specific budgets eg maybe a budget to challange for the title being a mandate without being specific about limits? It also seemed that the board also acted against the general consensus from members and wondered why they werent held to task. I'd have been furious about that and more so now!! It's not particularly relevant and could be seen as scapegoating previous board members i know, but it was looking from the outside that there were problems - a risk taken that worst case wont happen but did wth on pitch performances. Fan ownership is to be lauded but fans are the worst to react to problems or are blinkered to reality at times. Hence a hybrid model or employing a very strong CEO to be blunt and forthright with facts and figures are needed!!

    FORAS has an essential role still as a proactive, organised, fans' Trust that can lobby or maybe one day step up to the plate again. I really wish Dundak fans had somthing similar on the go.
    One of the biggest structural issues was timing of the AGM in relation to the season. Our AGMS are typically in February/March and we have to vote to approve the budget for the year. We can ask all the questions we like, and there were times where it got heated, most notably ahead of the 2019 season when the forecasted crowd seemed ridiculous to many in the room but in the end if we don't approve the budget what would happen? Players are signed, licensing is finalised, if we rejected it then we would realistically come back a few weeks later to approve a similar budget but with costs cut in other areas.

    We also elect new board members at the same AGM and in any given year there can be quite a lot of turnover so you can be in a position where you have a mostly new board dealing with a budget that they had no input to, and that was pretty much the case in 2019, with only one member on the board from the previous season, this was due to term limits (members are elected to 3 year terms and can run again but there are limits to how long any one idividual can stay on the board without a break) but also the untimely passing of Pat Shine who had been elected the previous year. So in 2019 we had an almost entirely new board untangling the budgetary issues of a board who had set aggressive targets that were unlikely to be met unless we were competing at the top of the table, and given the poor recruitment by John Caulfield we were soon in trouble.

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    So since foras took over the club the meetings to approve budgets were held after budgets were spent basically?

    Outgoing boards setting budgets for new boards?

    More or less whole boards all elected for the same terms so they'd be leaving at the same time?

    Was nice for the members to be able to ask as many pointless questions as they wanted though. A lot of people love that.

    So in effect every year the members were presented with a fait accompli that they could break wind about in meetings for as long as they liked before changing nothing.

    Then when the **** hits the fan they're presented with another fait accompli

    These are the people that were travelling around lecturing on how to run clubs

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    Appreciate the candour in that explination EP, but that sounds like a ridiculously busted rules of procedure or constitution. If it were causing problems, there were 10 years to adjust things to address what Ltid above outlines. Again it just seems strange - maybe there is a need for proper training for voluntary LoI club board members if such training doesnt exist. You cant expect everyone to know and understand even the basics of how a membership and their elected executive need to operate but those that do see the issues should be proposing procedural ammendments. Maybe a pro secretary general is what was needed needed. Well I wish CCFC luck with the new owners, of course not too much luck.
    Last edited by Nesta99; 30/10/2020 at 4:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lim till i die View Post
    So since foras took over the club the meetings to approve budgets were held after budgets were spent basically?

    Outgoing boards setting budgets for new boards?

    More or less whole boards all elected for the same terms so they'd be leaving at the same time?

    Was nice for the members to be able to ask as many pointless questions as they wanted though. A lot of people love that.

    So in effect every year the members were presented with a fait accompli that they could break wind about in meetings for as long as they liked before changing nothing.

    Then when the **** hits the fan they're presented with another fait accompli

    These are the people that were travelling around lecturing on how to run clubs
    Thats a pretty simplistic view but its not entirely inaccurate. We were led to believe the club was running a profit for several years in a row and that there was a plan should attendances.performances drop off. Because we were winning/making a profit grumbling was at a minimum. Its very easy to say now we should have seen these problems earlier, but I suppose we became complacent and there were things hidden from the membership at large that only became apparent when the board changed. I am not going to go into details here for what I hope are obvious reasons. There was also the VAT issue which has still never been properly explained but it seems that this was an issue that tripped up several organisations and landed us with unexpected revenue debt.
    A lot of what went wrong was the fault of the trust and membership at large. We should have been more vigilant, we should have done more to insist that we had more prudent budgets even if it meant we were less competitive. However there are individuals who made decisions and have never faced the trust and answered the questions we have for them. We were also to an extent a victim of circumstances outside of our control that exacerbated our problems. Our bad season and debt coincided with the collapse of the FAI and Limerick. This along with comments regarding the future stability of the LOI by the then Minister for Sport certainly had an effect on our ability to agree repayment schedules on the debt ahead of the licensing process and so we had to cash in our only asssets for a fraction of their value. As it happens Covid came along and those assets may well have ended up being worthless so perhaps we were lucky in a sense.

    I'm really angry at myself for being complacent and not asking tougher questions. I'm angry at the trust as a whole for allowing ourselves to get into this position. I'm angry at individuals who made decisions that put us in danger. I'm angry at the events of the last week. I think the reality is this is the best solution for the club in the short term in terms of its ability to continue as more than an entirely amateur side (which I would not have been opposed to), but I do think the entire process was very one sided, not aided by the need to have a virtual meeting rather than being able to have a proper debate/discussion in a room with both sides presented and the ability to question those presenting and allow for follow up discussions to get to the heart of each point.

    I still fundamentally believe that Fan run clubs are the best option for football over the long term. I fear the situaton we are in now where we are effectively at the whim of an individual and we have to hope he remains benevolent. Circumstances change and I'm sue many private owners of football clubs have considered their investments this year. There is nothing to stop Peak 6, Garrett Kelleher, Phillip O'Doherty or Trevor Hemmings from deciding that they are tired of sinking six figures into a football club each year for little return other than a warm feeling. I look at Harps, Sligo and Bohs and their ability to control their destiny, and in the case of Sligo in particular their ability to generate funds every single year and I am envious. On the other hand, running a club, even as an ordinary member is emotionally draining and it might be nice to go back to just being a supporter.
    Last edited by El-Pietro; 30/10/2020 at 5:26 PM.

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    It’s just an awful shame that it has come to this. Personally think there is not a chance in hell they wouldn’t have given Cork a licence next year cause of a 200k debt and that the board panicked with potential impact of Covid again next season.

    Don’t about Desmond but Kelleher and O’Doherty have certainly shown their commitment and no one could criticise them if they pull out. Peak 6 would certainly worry me as Dundalk were a penalty shoot out in Sherif away from being in real trouble and I just cannot see how that doesn’t end in tears eventually. Hopefully Hemmings heart is in the right place. I don’t even think he needs to invest too much as Cork have proven already they can come from Division 1 to the top.

    Fan owned clubs are great but you still need fans who are not going to lose the run of themselves which can be very difficult to do. Especially with the European money these days.

    I’d like to see Cork back that way if possible in time with the lessons of the last few years learned.

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    Speaking of Limerick any word on them coming back next season? Its sad to see wot happened to Cork city but FORAS members have no choice considering the circumstances.
    Daire Doyles red and black army

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    To all the cork lads on here, I genuinely wish you all the best with this next chapter. There's a few lads having sly digs on this thread, especially dundalk fans, but also that limerick idiot who really should know better. We've all been in similar places in our time supporting our clubs and it's sometimes hard to see the light at the end of tunnel, if there is actually light. But cork are a big club, big support, big catchment area, and if they stick together and regroup hopefully they'll be back challenging in the top flight soon enough. One of my favourite season s as a rovers fan was our stint in the first division, but hopefully I won't see another one. But it is a chance to slip under the radar and rebuild. I wish you well with it.

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