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Thread: Sporting Fingal in Business Post

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    Sporting Fingal in Business Post

    Interesting article about Sporting Fingal FC from Sunday Business Post (3 Feb 08)


    http://www.thepost.ie/post/pages/p/s...148-qqqx=1.asp


    Fingal’s ambitious football plan gets business backing


    Fingal County Council is teaming up with local industry to develop a major football plan for the area. Ian Kehoe reports.

    It is the fastest growing local authority area in the country, representing almost 6 per cent of the national population.

    It is also the youngest region in Ireland, with almost a third of its 250,000 inhabitants aged between 25 and 39, and a further 10 per cent under the age of five. The statistics do not end there - there are more than 100 nationalities represented, while 25 per cent of the population only moved into the region in the past five years. This huge change in demographics has brought major challenges for Fingal County Council, the local authority which covers most of north and west Dublin.

    What had previously been a largely rural area has suddenly been transformed into one of the most populated and urban counties in Ireland. ‘‘The dynamic of Fingal has changed radically,” said John O’Brien, senior executive officer with Fingal County Council. ‘‘We felt it was important that the council respond to the changes”. The first element of this response is Fingal’s Football Development Plan which includes ploughing more than €11 million into building a football academy complex, a new sports stadium for Dublin’s northside and a new elite football team, Sporting Fingal.

    ‘‘We believe that football can be a tool for delivering community development,” said O’Brien. In March, Sporting Fingal will formally make its debut in the Eircom League of Ireland and will play its first game against Longford Town in the first division of the league. The club was initially granted a licence to compete in the League of Ireland A Championship, a new league aimed at developing football clubs. The initial plan was to compete in this nursery league for a season or two before gaining promotion to the first division.

    However, last month, Kilkenny City announced that it was resigning from the first division due to financial difficulties, and the FAI promptly offered its place to Fingal. So, without ever having kicked a ball, Sporting Fingal found itself promoted to Ireland’s second highest football division. ‘‘We took no pleasure in the demise of Kilkenny, but we were ready to take up the challenge. We have our business plan in place and we have the majority of our squad on board. We are probably a year ahead of where we anticipated being,” O’Brien said. He was keen to stress that Fingal County Council was not investing any money in the club, its main role being to facilitate its establishment. The club will be owned by local industry, although the council will be represented on the board.

    Gerry Gannon, the multimillionaire property developer, will be the club’s majority owner. Gannon, who co-owns the K-Club golf resort in Co Kildare, came forward after the council advertised for potential investors and has agreed to bankroll the club for an initial five year period. ‘‘He is a good local Fingal man, who has done a lot for sport in the community,” said O’Brien ‘‘We were honest with him from the off. We don’t expect this club to make money, but that is not the point. The real agenda is to help develop a sustainable community”. Keelings, the fruit distributor and one of the largest employers in Fingal, has also come on board as a sponsor, as has Anglo Irish Bank. Both deals are set to be announced in the coming days.

    So, while most Irish soccer clubs have struggled financially to survive, Fingal has the money in place to fund the club for a minimum of five years. ‘‘Fingal County Council will not be bailing out the club. There will be no public funds going into it. Our job was getting it established and to make sure that it is a community club,” he said. ‘‘We have been honest throughout the process. I think the sponsors recognise what we are trying to do and are happy to back us. They know there is little chance of them getting a major return on their cheques”. The club’s manager and director of football will be Liam Buckley, a former Irish international who has been heavily involved in the project.

    While researching the project, O’Brien and a delegation from Fingal County Council visited the Norwegian club, Rosenborg. With a similar population base, the club has managed to dominate Norwegian football and compete regularly in the Champions League. ‘‘We know our limitations. We are not trying to win the Champions League. But Rosenborg is a real community club and a real part of the local area. That is something we want to replicate,” he said. The second element of the development plan, a new academy, is also in the pipeline. Plans for the centre are at the public consultation stage. If approved, construction work will begin in the coming months.

    The €11million facility will be located between Swords and Donabate, and will have sports fields, treatment rooms, lecture halls and cafes. The council is committing its owns funds to the project, while it also expects to receive state and lottery grants. It will include two full size outdoor soccer pitches, plus one indoor pitch with a viewing area - this will be the first full size indoor soccer pitch in the country, according to O’Brien, who added that the pitches could also be used for other sports. ‘‘There are 55 soccer clubs in the Fingal area, and it will available to them for training. We will have lecture halls and treatment rooms. It is not just about elite athletes, it is about having a facility for everyone.”

    Sporting Fingal will not have any underage teams but will provide specialist coaching to talented players. The club is also in talks with Dublin City University (DCU) about establishing a scholarship scheme between the university and the academy. The third area of the Fingal project is the development of a new stadium, probably in Swords. Initially, the club will play its home games in Morton Stadium in Santry, but the long term plan is to construct a new small sports stadium. ‘‘There is a new local area plan being drafted for Swords at present, and we intend to apply for a sports stadium as part of that plan. It is a rapidly growing town and we believe it is probably the best location for the stadium. The Metro is due to come to Swords as well,” he said.

    The exact size of the stadium has yet to be decided, but O’Brien said the council would be realistic. There was no point building a 10,000 seater stadium if the club was only getting attendances of 1,000, he said. "We really want the community to get behind the project,” he said. ‘‘It will only work if the local community come and support the club and watch the games. We want this club to become part of the fabric of Fingal, and we need the local residents to buy into this. It is a great way of creating a local identity”. The council also wants to increase the number of girls and women playing football. In the future, O’Brien said, they hoped to establish a senior women’s team. ‘‘The whole ethos is community and the development of a community spirit. ‘‘We will look at anything possible to make that happen,” he said.
    Last edited by A face; 03/02/2008 at 9:29 PM. Reason: Paragraphs
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    While researching the project, O’Brien and a delegation from Fingal County Council visited the Norwegian club, Rosenborg. With a similar population base, the club has managed to dominate Norwegian football and compete regularly in the Champions League.
    Had to be a junket involved.
    http://www.forastrust.ie/

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    I don't see how they're going to develop a community feel and fanbase while their target area is North County Dublin, mainly Swords, yet they'll be based in Santry. I suppose the backing of the council means they'll eventually get that stadium in Swords though. They're saying no council funds are going into the club, but aren't the council advertising two executive positions in the club in the papers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poor Student View Post
    I don't see how they're going to develop a community feel and fanbase while their target area is North County Dublin, mainly Swords, yet they'll be based in Santry.
    Hopefully they can develop the community feel as it is the best way to do it. Not enough clubs in Dublin do it this way and this leads to apathy and poor attendances.

    Best of luck to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sullanefc View Post
    Hopefully they can develop the community feel as it is the best way to do it. Not enough clubs in Dublin do it this way and this leads to apathy and poor attendances.

    Best of luck to them.
    It's a positive aim but it just seems to be the Dublin City way of doing things. Get the club set up in league and find anywhere to play and the important stuff will follow later. Dublin City were then unable to cultivate a support and things went downhill. Sporting sound like they have a decent financial backing but if in five years time the Swords stadium hasn't materialised and their support is minimal will people still be willing to put the money in?

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    They are nothing like Dublin City, can't believe that comment. Sure they are a football team in the Eircom League and play out of Dublin but what else is similar ?

    Dublin never had any identity so Fingal are different in that they are trying to identify with an area of 250,000+ people. They are also within distance of many areas within Dublin City Council so it's not like they're restricted to Fingal, there's no clear border in many Dublin peoples minds!

    They also have money and we know money buys success in this league.
    They have secured funding for 5 years, thats more than most EL clubs can do to be honest.

    They are getting great training facilities built for them over the next season or two.

    They have plans for a stadium in a part of the country that any relocating Dublin team would kill for. Outside of Rovers going to Tallaght I can't see an area better in Dublin in which to build a stadium.

    I don't see them as another Dublin City.

    The only problem I have is that playing out of Santry for 3 or 4 years is going to hurt them big time. Not having a stadium built for them from Day 1 is going to hurt. If they can't get the fans to Santry then it certainly could be a project that will go down as new councillors are elected and don't see the appeal.
    Last edited by higgins; 03/02/2008 at 10:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    The only problem I have is that playing out of Santry for 3 or 4 years is going to hurt them big time. Not having a stadium built for them from Day 1 is going to hurt. If they can't get the fans to Santry then it certainly could be a project that will go down as new councillors are elected and don't see the appeal.
    That was my main point. I may be misunderstanding the project but I gather its going to be aimed at the people of Swords and other North Co. Dublin towns as opposed to the North of the city which is covered by Bohs, Shels and to a certain extent Shamrock Rovers. Like Dublin City they'll be tennants in an area they don't intend to put roots down in for a number of years. In 5 years time they could have a fanbase numbering one or two hundred with ambitions disconnected from the size of their support base. Also, they won't remain an attractive sponsorship project forever.

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    Santry and Swords are hardly that far apart. I think as long as the stadium plans go ahead in Swords it won't matter how many fans they have in Santry as it's just up the road. My only concern for them is what you mentioned in that the council get cold feet before ever starting to build the Swords stadium and they are stuck in Santry.

    If they can get this team to Swrods and also have the 11million training facility built in Donabate I don't think there's much to stop them being a success. Dublin City never had a home, with no plans to ever have one. They also didn't have the money to sign quality players once promoted and didn't hold the fans.

    If Gannon is serious about putting money in and FCC are serious about a stadium in Swords I don't know what else they need to do. When you think Bohs want to go to Harristown !! Swords is 100 times better...

    It is of course all plans but with a county council behind these plans they may have a lot more success than most other clubs had with their plans
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    The key to Sporting Fingal's success will ultimately be that stadium in Swords. They are not going to gain any fan base playing in santry. I can't see the local population not catching on when they establish themselves up there. Excellent transport (metro+M50) and facilities are crucial. The question is will they survive long enough to see the stadium built? Or more to the point... will a local GAA club object?!!
    Last edited by Buller; 04/02/2008 at 10:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    The only problem I have is that playing out of Santry for 3 or 4 years is going to hurt them big time. Not having a stadium built for them from Day 1 is going to hurt. If they can't get the fans to Santry then it certainly could be a project that will go down as new councillors are elected and don't see the appeal.
    Good point. In a few years time even with new stadium they will have lost the appeal of new club.

    I wonder why Fingal did not try to attract an existing club by offering to build and run a stadium?
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    People forget that when Home Farm first moved into Morton Stadium they were called Home Farm Fingal. So obviously it was at the behest of certain councillors in Fingal. The big difference this time is Gannon. This guy has mega bucks at his disposal. He had been involved with other clubs and in fairness these clubs have done well from his involvement, ie Malahide Utd excellent facilities. However Mr Gannon has also done well from these connections. So the question is what is in it for him to make such an investment in SF. What is he getting from Fingal CC.
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    This is a non-starter for the reasons I've mentioned earlier in this thread also a significant number of resident's in "County Fingal" are foreign nationals and/or lone parent families whom in all probability won't be in the area for any real length of time nor have any emotional ties to the Area or it's wonderful community Football Club. All credit to the people involved but if they think SFFC will ever draw crowd's to Santry they should go ask Seary how difficult that is. and By the time they are in Swords they'll have Bohs as neighbors in Harristown

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    I think Bohs have a lot more to be worried about than SFFC

    You're bus route to Harristown has been extended. It's highly likely that SFFC will be in Swords long before Bohs get to Harristown, IF Bohs get to Harristown. How's your relationship with FCC thses days ??
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    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    It's highly likely that SFFC will be in Swords long before Bohs get to Harristown
    Based on what ?

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    Based on FCC coming out and backing the sports stadium for Swords for Sporting Fingal. That plus the delays already encountered in the Harristown deal.

    When do you expect to play your first game in Harristown ?

    It's a race to North County Dublin from the looks of it
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    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    Based on FCC coming out and backing the sports stadium for Swords for Sporting Fingal. That plus the delays already encountered in the Harristown deal.
    if The CC stay interested long enough to get it done

    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    When do you expect to play your first game in Harristown ?
    within 4 years

    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    It's a race to North County Dublin from the looks of it
    Don't think Sporting Feckall will have built any kind of fanbase/Roots within 4 years

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    No I doubt it very much they will have any fans in Santry in 4 years time. Thats the only thing I think they are overlooking in all this. The jump straight into the First Division may come too soon as I think they would be much better off in Swords.

    On the other hand if they are serious about a stadium in Swords within 5 years and Bohs are trying to get into Harristown at the same time, how will FCC react ?

    I take it planning permission for the site of the new stadium has to be approved by FCC ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by higgins View Post
    No I doubt it very much they will have any fans in Santry in 4 years time. Thats the only thing I think they are overlooking in all this. The jump straight into the First Division may come too soon as I think they would be much better off in Swords.

    On the other hand if they are serious about a stadium in Swords within 5 years and Bohs are trying to get into Harristown at the same time, how will FCC react ?

    I take it planning permission for the site of the new stadium has to be approved by FCC ?
    Planning permission has been obtained for the Harristown site the stumbling block is the Planning permission for Apartments at Dalymount which is under the jurisdiction of Dublin City Council not FCC

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    Both locations for the stadiums are quite a distance from each other. Harristown is just beyond Ballymun while SF stadium is supposedly going to be built in Donabate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    Both locations for the stadiums are quite a distance from each other. Harristown is just beyond Ballymun while SF stadium is supposedly going to be built in Donabate.
    Donabate? as in -Shels were gonna move into the Wilderness of Donabate- Donabate. FFS whatever chance they had of a fan base in Swords they've no chance in Dona-feckin-bate

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