New takeover bid boosts Cork hopes of competing in top division
BELEAGUERED Cork City owner Tom Coughlan has been given until Monday morning to make a decision on whether or not to hand over control of the club.
City had called a press conference for yesterday afternoon to provide details of their plans to try to facilitate a Premier Division team in Cork for the upcoming League of Ireland season.
At that press conference, the club's general manager, Liam Meaney, said that a bid had been received in the previous 30 minutes to take over all of the shares of the holding company, Cork City FC Investments Ltd.
That bid is believed to have come from Michael O'Connell, the former chief executive of adidas in Ireland, and London businessman Peter Gray, represented by the Quintas Group.
As a result, Meaney said that Coughlan, already banned from footballing activity by the FAI for 12 months, "has now stepped down from all club matters with immediate effect."
Jim McCarthy of Quintas was offered the position of interim chairman while the takeover was negotiated, and Gray was offered a place on the board. However, last night the consortium revealed that both offers were declined as they would be inappropriate given the nature of the potential takeover.
Meaney said he was confident that the takeover would go through, though he was not party to the discussions and so could not comment on the figures involved.
He also said that he had been briefed on the club's chances of receiving a licence for the coming season, but could not reveal what that briefing was. He did, however, agree, when it was put to him, that the prospective new owners would not be investing substantial sums of money to take over a club that was not in the Premier Division.
With the FAI's licensing committee meeting on Monday, and the holding company also facing a winding-up order from Revenue in the High Court, sources close to bidders have said that Coughlan must make a decision before then, though Meaney said that the Revenue matter would be sorted.
Roddy Collins was also present, and expressed hope that he would be allowed to continue as manager should the takeover be completed.
When asked how he felt after so many players, including former captain Dan Murray and Danny Murphy, had left during the close season, Collins said he was "disappointed that they didn't show much loyalty to the club" -- despite not having been paid since November.
He said losing Murphy was the biggest disappointment as he regarded him as the best left-back in the country.