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Cork City were 'two hours away from going bust' | Takeover update

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

16:59 24 Feb 2020

Cork City were two hours away from going out of business but are still hopeful of a takeover from Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings.

The information came on Sunday night at a meeting of Foras, the supporters' trust that owns the League of Ireland club.

The club have started the Premier Division in poor form, with two defeats from two - including a 6-0 away loss to Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that City had been forced to sell the sell-on clauses to former players Alan Browne and Seanie Maguire, in a bid to secure funding for a €150,000 tax bill.

At the time, the club only were struggling to raise the necessary funds to offer to Revenue to continue as a Premier Division side. The club also had debts owed to their bank, in addition to the Revenue debt.

It is understood that a combination of factors led Cork City to the brink.

In an attempt to refinance their debts, City approached the bank to extend their payment terms to give them more time.

However, the bank was unwilling to do so in part due to the uncertainty surrounding Irish football administration structures at that time.

In addition, it is understood that Revenue have been all the more wary of footballing debts since Limerick FC entered examinership in September of last year.

To secure immediate financial stability, the club attempted to secure financing from over 20 local businesses, to no avail.

Supporters were told that the club then approached Peter Ridsdale - the former Leeds United chairman and football advisor to Preston owner Trevor Hemmings - about selling the clauses for Browne and Maguire.

Cork City - close to the brink?

It is understood that the request was initially rejected by Preston as they had no intention of selling either player in the near-term.

However, once the dire situation at Cork was made clear, Hemmings' holding company sent six delegates to meet with the club to discuss the situation.

Those delegates agreed with the club that they would pay €199,000 for both players' clauses - a price believe to believed to be well below what City may have reasonably expected to receive in current market conditions.

Having secured the money for Browne and Maguire's contractual obligations, Cork then re-approached the FAI to renew their Premier Division licence, with two hours to go.

The approach was refused due to concerns over their outstanding bank debts and the club re-approached Ridsdale who upped Preston's offer for the two players.

The new offer included €450,000 for the terms regarding Browne and Maguire, as well as €150,000 for first refusal on a takeover of Cork City.

Hemmings remains keen to purchase the club, although it would be done in such a manner that there would be no plans to turn City into a feeder club for the Lancashire side.

Supporters are divided as to whether this is a course of action they wish to pursue.

“Like any fan of Cork City, I want the club to do well and survive and prosper,” former Cork City owner and Foras member told Echo Live.

“A club run by members is what you’d like to have but, unfortunately, when you don’t have the backing of a large section of the business community in Cork, it’s always going to be difficult.

“To ensure that the club has a positive future and is able to continue and grow, I think that a takeover is the only option.”

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