| 10.7°C Dublin

Cork rebirth should start in First Division

UNLESS you're a long-suffering Cork City supporter, or a sadomasochist, or unfortunate enough to be both, chances are that you've had enough of reading about the latest shenanigans on Leeside.

It's a never-ending stream of misery, a litany of broken promises and empty words and bluster. And yet, Tom Coughlan still appeared on RTE the other night to speak at length about the issue of sincerity. Maybe the solution to the constant flow of deplorable comedy shows that the national broadcaster has been inflicting upon us has been under their noses the whole time.

When the FAI spin department actively engage in the business of condemning an individual or body, then you know they must be acting in the confidence that they're the good guys in that scenario. Hence the manner in which the misdemeanours at Derry City were seized upon to preach the message that a zero- tolerance approach was here to stay. Oh, and they were queueing up to express moral outrage in the wake of that night in Paris.

Contrast that with the approach taken by the powers that be in 2007, when they tried to mask the fact that they had included the suspended Shane Long on the subs bench for a Euro 2008 qualifier by putting out a missive that he was injured for a subsequent game against Cyprus, when the ban still stood.

Back then, the relevant authorities took up a familiar berth alongside the ostriches, a vantage point that has been adopted on several occasions during the ongoing crises at Cork City, from the Arkaga days to the early excesses of the Coughlan era. Now, the grains of sand have been shaken out of the hair, with urgings from John Delaney and Fran Gavin for regime change coming far too late in the day.

Of course, it would be wrong to assume that public statements run in tandem with behind-the-scenes manoeuvring. For some time, the FAI has been fearing the worst at Cork and it's no surprise that the financial group Quintas, who are to the forefront of a takeover bid, have a healthy relationship with Irish football chiefs. Jim McCarthy from Quintas, who has impressed Cork players and other stakeholders in negotiations, has a football background with Blarney United, an amateur club who the FAI have held up as a role model for others.

Last month, Delaney said that a division packed with Dublin clubs, in the event of Cork's relegation, would be regrettable, yet stressed that the priority for 2010 should be a solvent Premier Division rather than a division with some form of geographical spread.

Alas, the suggestion that the consortium lining up to assume control from Coughlan are operating on the belief that they can retain their top flight status by securing agreements with creditors in the next fortnight is deeply troubling.

Naturally, their bid deserves support; the maintenance of senior football in the city is vital. But if the new investors, which have the backing of supporters group FORAS, really want to start on the right foot, then they should be concentrated on securing a licence for the First Division and building something manageable and believable.

For if Cork City, regardless of the owner, are allowed to play Premier Division football this year and represent the League of Ireland in Europe, then the system of governance has failed. Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover.

Irish Independent