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Saturday 19 January 2019

'I take 100pc responsibility for it' - former rugby star Frankie Sheahan insists he holds no grudges over high profile bankruptcy

The ex-player has revealed that, after multiple repayment proposals had been rejected, his final negative equity was €500,0000 on an investment portfolio worth €3m

Former rugby star Frankie Sheahan in his playing days Photo: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Former rugby star Frankie Sheahan in his playing days Photo: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ralph Riegel

FORMER Ireland and Munster rugby star Frankie Sheahan insisted he holds no grudges over his high-profile bankruptcy.

Mr Sheahan (41) was forced into bankruptcy in April 2017 after Bank of Ireland turned down a personal insolvency arrangement he had offered in a bid to address debts of €1.1m to the bank.

Over his rugby career the Cork-based star won 29 caps for Ireland and played for Munster a total of 154 times.

Now, he is rebuilding his career with Pendulum Summit, an annual motivational conference which he will bring to the US with a New York event next September.

Pendulum Summit organiser Frankie Sheahan
Pendulum Summit organiser Frankie Sheahan

He has now revealed that, after multiple repayment proposals had been rejected, his final negative equity was €500,0000 on an investment portfolio worth €3m.

The rugby star said that while his pride was hurt over the 2017 bankruptcy, he had the "peace of mind" of knowing he had done everything possible over the previous five years to hammer out a repayment deal with his creditor.

"We had five years of litigation and when I look back at it the amount of desperately wasted time that we spent, myself, my family, drafting letters and then drafting responses, putting proposals together," he told RedFM's Jonathan Healy Show

"On the bank's side, they were going through all of this - they were having meetings....the legals were having a field day. Two or three sets of legals back and forth and around.

"What a desperate waste of time - when I look back at the energy spent. If I was head of Ireland Inc in the morning - that was a lost seven, eight or nine years of just negative energy around with nothing productive coming from it.

"It was what it was - but my negative equity was only €500,000. I don't mean to (be flippant). But as part of a portfolio that was worth €3m in six or 12 months that would have been positive again.

"I certainly wasn't a basket case.

"We had dozens of proposals on the table to pay every penny back in time. We couldn't pay it in one lump sum - to be fair, that is a very unreasonable ask. But that was the ask.

"We had no option to bankruptcy. It absolutely damaged my pride to have to do that because I would never, ever advocate for anybody to walk away from something.

"But I had a peace of mind knowing that we had 20 proposals - we tried for five years to deal with this.

"At the end of the day it is very hard to do a deal with somebody who doesn't want a deal.

"That is what it was - I had the peace of mind knowing it was one creditor and one creditor only.

"For the record, I don't have any animosity towards anybody else - it is what it is."

Mr Sheahan said he focused on property investments when he retired.

"When I retired I was luckier than a lot of guys in that I am from a business background. My father has been stuck in business for 40 years or so," he said.

"I had a lot of excitement about the ideas I had - but there is also a lot of fear. I invested heavily in property and we all know what happened next. Property dropped by about 50pc, 60pc, 70pc.

"You have to deal with what is in front of you. One of the most frustrating things was dealing with people in a non-commercial sense. For some, there was a zero tolerance view - it was a learning curve dealing with a brick-wall mentality."

Mr Sheahan said he believed many Irish businesses and investors in financial difficulty could have addressed their debts had they just been given time.

"I take responsibility for everything I have done - I did what I did and I take 100pc responsibility for it," he said.

"Some banks worked very well at it. While you had something like NAMA that came in and was brilliant for the developers, there was no NAMA for the people who owed €1m, €2m or €3m.

"Some people bought loans back for a fraction of the price. There were developers who took loans out from commercial institutions - it was a joint venture. Things went wrong, the banks became nationalised and suddenly they are Public Enemy No 1. I thought that was unusual. Do people have all the facts?"

"Some people would say, was it greed? I would take issue with that. It is being as good as you can. It is not necessarily about the money for those guys - it is being as good as you can be and setting and achieving new targets."

Mr Sheahan admitted it was difficult facing the loss of savings and investments from over almost two decades as a rugby player.

"I was very fortunate to be able to play rugby professionally for 14 years," he said.

"I had a huge passion for it and I was lucky the game was turning professional just as I got out of University College Cork (UCC).

"I was lucky that I got 29 caps for Ireland. But I grew up with Ronan O'Gara and look at him - he has 128 caps."

The former hooker had to retire from the game at the age of 32 because of persistent injuries.

Now, he works as a sports pundit in addition to his work with Pendulum.

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