independent

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Sporting move 'will tear heart out of community'

Sporting Fingal secretary John O'Brien.
Sporting Fingal secretary John O'Brien.

Robin KIELY

SPORTING Fingal has been accused of 'tearing the heart out of the community' after the club announced it is to play its home games at Dalymount Park from next season.

In a statement released last week, club secretary, John O'Brien said the move away from Morton Stadium in Santry to Phibsboro would help improve accessibility to matches for the 'overall catchment' area of the county, despite relocating the club out of Fingal and into the city centre.

However, that could all be in vain unless new investment is found, following the resignation of chairman, Gerry Gannon, and a dearth in sponsorship for the new season and it's understood a deadline of January 15th has been set to finalise matters once and for all.

In an ironic twist, the fixture list released for the new season has pitted Sporting away to their landlords Bohemians in only their second game – effectively an away tie at their new 'home' ground.

Fine Gael's Cllr Alan Farrell, who is a volunteer steward at Morton, slammed the 'disgraceful' decision and warned the club were in danger of losing fans.

'It's a community club and the club are taking themselves out of the community that they were created for,' Cllr Farrell told the Fingal Independent.

'It's a disgraceful decision. I'm certainly going to be talking to the 26% share-holder (Fingal County Council) in the new year to see what their views are. I'd like to hear what the county manager has to say, given he speaks for Fingal County Council.

'Sporting Fingal and the Sporting Fingal Community Trust are all Fingal-based organisations and for the club to move itself from Fingal is a very strange decision.

'I imagine there will be supporters who will not travel. The existing support base has been fought very hardfought for and will be eroded by this.

'This club was set up as a sporting organisation as opposed to just another League of Ireland soccer club, hell-bent on running itself into the ground.'

It's the latest revelation regarding the Airtricity League of Ireland side, following the resignation of Mr Gannon, along with general manager, Joe Corr, the conducting of a financial review and the departure of a number of first team players.

Sporting will pay an estimated weekly rent in excess of € 1,000 for the use of Dalymount and could find themselves in even more difficulty, given a potential fall in gate numbers triggered by the move, as well as a cut in ticket prices.

The club are set to meet with fans in the coming weeks, many of whom are aghast at the move, with the League of Ireland side once again the talk of internet chatrooms.

'It seriously sounds like a bad idea,' one fan wrote. 'Shamrock Rovers were able to get away with it because they had a strong fan base to start with, but Sporting Fingal don't.'

Another wrote: 'Cash isn't being pumped in any more. All the best players are leaving. Sporting Fingal won't be playing in Fingal. The club is a joke,' while a third said the 'heart has been ripped out of the community – we're in crisis'.

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