Friday 23 March 2018

Cork finally defeated as sorry tale winds down

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Cork's game of chance finally over

FOR those clinging to the hope that Cork City Football Club would somehow perform another Lazarus-like act, there would be no happy ending.

After over two hours of deliberations at FAI HQ last evening, the Independent Licensing Committee refused the application for a Premier Division licence from Cork City FC Investments Limited.

That company will be wound up today, and while Tom Coughlan's intentions last night were unclear -- he could choose to enter an appeals process -- the reality is that there is no comeback for the club, as we know it, after this decision. The game of chance is over.

Finer points like the status of their creditors will have to be dealt with in due course. Roddy Collins and the players who have been lining out in pre-season friendlies now enter limbo. Supporters group FORAS have been granted a First Division licence and should have access to Turner's Cross, with financial advisors Quintas -- who were one part of the consortium that were ready to take over from Coughlan if the FAI handed out a reprieve -- deliberating over whether to join them in the new era.

In the short term, though, the domestic game must prepare for a season where Munster will not be represented in the top flight -- Bray will take Cork's place. Just like the demise of Derry City, however, heartbroken fans have to come to terms with the realisation that it was a deserved conclusion to a sorry tale.

Earlier, Cork had been given another glimmer of hope in the High Court by Justice Mary Laffoy who postponed the formal liquidation of the club by 24 hours after counsel on behalf of the prospective new owners turned up to say they had €600,000 available to discharge all the club's liabilities.

The judge was told by Ross Gorman BL, for McGuire Desmond Nominees, that yesterday afternoon his client entered into an agreement to buy the club from Coughlan.

He added that the postponement of the winding up was needed to see if the club could secure a Premier Division licence from the FAI. Without the licence the club would be "worth nothing," counsel added.

Last week, the court was told that the Leesiders had money to discharge a €107,653 Revenue debt -- which had risen to €163,000 by yesterday -- but was unable to do so because its bank account has been frozen.

The judge directed that some €158,000 due to the club from the sale of players Kevin Long to Burnley, and the cashing in of David Meyler's sell-on clause which was included as part of his transfer to Sunderland in 2008, be lodged into its bank account with Allied Irish Bank. The money due to Revenue was to be paid from this, the judge directed.

However yesterday the court was told that a Cork-based businessman, Stephen O'Keeffe, as a result of a loan given to the club, had purchased the right to the transfer fee for Irish U-21 international Long and was owed €100,000 of the monies from that deal.

Dermot Cahill BL, for Revenue, said that Revenue had received the money it was owed from the club from England last week, however it was now accepted that Mr O'Keeffe was due to get the proceeds of the Kevin Long transfer. That fact should have been disclosed to the court last week, counsel said.

Justice Laffoy said that she would strike out the order winding up the club if the entire amount is paid to Revenue by 2pm today -- and the takeover parties were satisfied -- and said that the FAI should be informed of her decision, effectively knocking the ball firmly back into their court.

Not before time, the powers that be at Abbotstown returned with the right decision.

Irish Independent

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