Friday 15 December 2017

Bohs' stock plummets as financial headache takes its toll

Sen Ryan

WHILE Shamrock Rovers are looking forward to banking a €1m profit from their Europa League exploits, their great Northside rivals Bohemians are facing a race against time to come up with €120,000 to preserve their Premier status.

Rovers, who play Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday in the second of their Europa League group games, are guaranteed a happy end to their financial year, but a meeting of Bohemians members last Monday was told that a sum of €120,000 was needed by the end of November to ensure that the club's liabilities with its playing staff were met.

Failure to do so can lead to penalties, among which is the possibility of relegation to the First Division. Although Bohs have 400 members, only 80 or so attended the meeting, which seems to indicate that they are suffering from donor fatigue, as this was but the latest in a series of meetings, at which gloomy reports on the club's finances have been presented.

In addition to the €120,000 needed by the end of November, there is also the much bigger sum of €4m owed to Zurich Bank, which is due to be paid next June.

This sum originates from the club's deal with Danninger, the developer which was to buy Dalymount Park and build a new stadium in return. The borrowings from Zurich were based on that deal. Danninger is now in NAMA.

The ground is the club's only asset, but they own it outright, even though part of the security on the Zurich loan is on part of the ground.

Various valuations have been sought for the ground, and all indicate that the club's assets exceed their liabilities. However, realising those assets in the present climate could be another matter.

The immediate problem is caused by a cash flow which is less than budgeted for. Gate receipts are down, despite the club's fine showing in the league and reaching the semi-final of the FAI Cup. Their quarter-final replay with Dundalk attracted just over 1,100 patrons last Tuesday, 300 more than were at the league game between the same teams the week before.

There was a strangely muted atmosphere throughout the cup tie, in sharp contrast to recent times when the Jodi Stand would be full to its 2,500 capacity, and the stadium would be rocking.

The lack of atmosphere seemed to affect the players, as this was one of the poorer games at Dalymount this season.

Bohs benefited from a clause in the Stephen Ward transfer to Wolves when he made his competitive debut for Ireland recently, and they will also benefit in similar fashion if young Wolves full-back Matt Doherty, who played in the Carling Cup last week, makes a certain number of appearances, but that won't be in the near future.

The loan scheme, which the club introduced earlier this year, raised significant funds, and the management committee believe it is still the best bet to meet their needs by the end of the financial year.

Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O'Neill has something in common with Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp -- both are more concerned about their domestic league results than the Europa League.

"We have seven huge games left in the league -- five at home," said O'Neill. "And that starts against Bray (today, 3.0). We obviously also have the European thing at the moment, but the league is our number one priority and will be for the rest of the season."

Redknapp made it clear that the Premier League was his priority when he played a young team away to PAOK, and he is likely to do the same against Shamrock Rovers this week, as, three days later, his team take on their great North London rivals Arsenal.

This could be to Rovers' advantage, for O'Neill will surely play his best team in this one despite the number of games his side is facing into.

And he might also be mindful that they have been getting their best results away. Thursday could be another great night for the Hoops.

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