Sunday 30 April 2017

Fenlon forlorn as Bohs face endgame

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

PAT FENLON has admitted that Bohemians' future is so uncertain that he doesn't know if there will be a club to manage next season.

"I don't know what scenario is going to unfold but there is a real possibility the club won't be around in the new year," said Fenlon who still has a year to run on his contract.

"That's the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario is that we are around with limited resources, just plodding along in the lower reaches of the Premier Division.

"It would be a disaster (if Bohemians were not a senior club next year).

"It's not just a football club, but a way of life for people. For Bohs not to be around would be a disaster, particularly when you think of the history of the club, the work that went into it last year with regard to the members and the supporters.

"Bohs were a founding member of the League and have never been out of the top flight.

"It's hard to think about it, to be honest, if you are looking at the worst-case scenario that there won't be a Bohemians. It would be an absolute disaster for Irish football."

There was a sense of foreboding around Dalymount last Friday night as the fans stayed in the ground long after the final whistle to applaud the players after their last home game of the season, even though they lost 3-0 to Sligo Rovers.

With their repayments on a €4m debt to Zurich Bank due to start next year, the financial net appears to be closing in on Bohs. The club's members will be called to an Extraordinary General Meeting on November 10 to vote on a range of proposals surrounding the sale of Dalymount Park.

Since they agreed to sell the land to Liam Carroll's Danninger Ltd in a massive deal in 2007, Bohs have been embroiled in legal battles and negotiations that prevented the transaction going through.

Bohs are now trying to get out of the deal with Carroll, who is one of NAMA's top 10 developers, and arrange a sale to another bidder in order to save the club.

The most extreme option up for discussion at the EGM is the sale of the whole club to a private individual, which would bring an end to the Gypsies' 121-year membership structure.

No matter what the outcome, the very existence of the club is under threat and Fenlon believes its demise would represent a sad reflection of the state of the game in Ireland.

"If it's a case that Dalymount Park goes to wherever and Bohemians do not exist, it will show you where we are in relation to where football is in this country," he said.

"Everybody tells me that Irish football is in a great state. Look a little bit closer to home and you will see the actual state that the game is in."

Irish Independent

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