'Byrne the key for future of Shelbourne' claims Kilkenny
OSSIE KILKENNY yesterday told Shelbourne owner Ollie Byrne that the club's future is in his own hands.
Kilkenny, chairman of the Irish Sports Council, insists that he does not want to see the eircom League champions go bust - but will not be making any more deals with Shels chief Byrne.
The millionaire businessman has a long-established agreement to buy Tolka Park from Shels and that deal is the key to the club staying in football.
Shelbourne's future has been placed in jeopardy in recent months with mounting debts forcing them to release all of their playing staff from last season. They have already withdrawn from the Setanta Cup.
The Reds owe a significant sum to the Revenue Commissioners and a figure of more than ?150,000 to their former players as well as monies owed to several different business concerns.
With debts reportedly as high as ?10million, the deal struck with Kilkenny is considered the only option Byrne has to keep his club in business.
Kilkenny was asked about the issue at yesterday's announcement of O'Neill's' sponsoring of the kit for the Irish Paralympic team for the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games.
While the businessman was not keen to elaborate on the Shelbourne situation he did confirm he is eager for the club to stay in business.
"The future of Shelbourne FC, a football club I would not want to see cease activities after 112 years, is wholly and exclusively at the hands of Ollie Byrne," he insisted.
Kilkenny confirmed that he last spoke with the club in December and that he had placed no further offers on the table.
With Shelbourne strapped for cash and owner Byrne recovering from serious illness, the deal for the sale of the Drumcondra ground is now likely to be completed in the coming days.
Shelbourne met a lunchtime deadline yesterday to provide the FAI with information requested to retain their club licence and their future should be known by Monday night. "The First Instance Committee has received correspondence from Shelbourne FC and will meet on Monday evening," was all that an FAI spokesman was prepared to say yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Paralympic Council of Ireland received one of the most significant boosts in its history yesterday.
The deal with O'Neill's is the biggest sponsorship that sector of Irish sport has ever received and Kilkenny confirmed yesterday that the Irish Sports Council is to invest ?478,000 in the Paralympic Council.
Meanwhile, Republic of Ireland youth international Conal Platt has joined Conference side Weymouth on a month-long loan deal from Bournemouth.
Former Republic of Ireland under-21 international midfielder Gary Dempsey is pondering an opportunity to leave Aberdeen and head south to Yeovil Town this summer.