CORK City will no longer be a fan-owned club as the outfit have agreed a deal for businessman Dermot Usher to take over.
The club’s future was in question following their success this year of winning promotion back to the Premier Division, after a two-year stay in the second tier, with the need for more investment to fund top flight football. Last year the proposed sale of the club to the then owner of Preston North End, Trevor Hemmings, fell through.
Hemmings advanced the club the funds they needed to clear debts so they could obtain a licence to compete in the 2020 season but talks on a complete takeover, for a £1 fee, broke down. Hemmings died in 2021.
But Usher has now completed a takeover, once that is ratified by club members. Usher was previously involved in the League of Ireland when his bathroom supplies company, Sonas, sponsored Bray Wanderers.
"Over the past number of months, the Board of Management have engaged with a number of parties with regards to investment into the football club. The Board is now pleased to announce that following completion of our due diligence process we have provisionally accepted a bid from Mr Dermot Usher to purchase the entirety of Cork City FC,” the club said today.
“The acceptance of the Board is subject to approval of the shareholders of the Friends of the Rebel Army Society (FORAS), the supporter's group who currently control the club. The vote will be deemed to pass under a simple majority in favour. The vote will take place at a Special General Meeting on Sunday, December 4th. The board will exclusively be engaging with Dermot Usher and will not be considering any additional approaches from other third parties.
"The Board will be unanimously supporting a vote in favour of a sale, in what we believe could be an exciting next chapter in the history of Cork City FC. Both Dermot Usher and Chairman Declan Carey will be making a number of media appearances over the coming weeks, whilst Dermot will also be highlighting his vision for the club at the SGM.
"Dermot is a successful businessman, where he previously led the Irish market-leading bathroom brand, SONAS Bathrooms, over a 30-year period, growing the business to in excess of €40 million in revenues per annum. Dermot exited his company in 2021 and remains on the Board of Directors as Non-Executive Director.”
After a period of financial instability, with two ownership changes, the club were essentially rescued and run by fans group FORAS in 2010. Cork City were a fan-owned club for their successful period in the last decade, a league and Cup double in 2017 and Champions League football.
But the club suffered in the wake of that title win as financial problems hit. League winning manager John Caulfield was sacked in 2019 after a poor run of form but his successor, Neale Fenn, struggled and was sacked late on in the 2020 season, at the end of which City were relegated.