JP donation helps Limerick move back to Markets Field
LIMERICK FC are on the way back to their spiritual home at Markets Field after a €1.5m donation from JP McManus to restore the venue and make it a base for soccer in the city.
The club have suffered an uncertain existence since they left the ground in the early 1980s after 50 years there and have long targeted a return to the dormant greyhound track to revive their fortunes.
Now, the dream is possible after the investment from McManus through the medium of his 'JP McManus Charitable Foundation.' They made the donation to the Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership Limited, which allowed them to purchase the land from the Irish Greyhound Board.
Gerry Boland, Director of Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership, said that a licence will be granted to the League of Ireland club with a view to developing sport -- soccer in particular -- as a part of Limerick's social and economic regeneration.
McManus has been a strong supporter of GAA in Limerick, and also invested money in the Thomond Park redevelopment.
This significant foray into soccer territory is a huge boost for the struggling First Division club, who are currently engaged in a legal dispute with the FAI over the association's controversial decision to block last summer's visit of Barcelona to the region.
Limerick owner Pat O'Sullivan, who has refused to back down in his dispute with Abbotstown authorities over the Barcelona issue, hailed the contribution from McManus. "I wish to thank JP & Noreen McManus for their extreme generosity without which this momentous day for Limerick sport could not have come about," said O'Sullivan.
"The generosity has been an inspiration and a source of wonderful support to many people and organisations throughout the region and we in Limerick FC, as a key part of the wider sporting community, are so grateful for this marvellous gesture.
"We are first and foremost a community-based club and our wish is to create a club that the people of the Mid West can have pride in. With the Markets Field as our home, not only can the club prosper on the national stage in the Airtricity League, but we can also encourage all people to embrace soccer as a means of encouraging inclusivity in society."
Limerick are targeting promotion from the First Division this year with a view to becoming a top flight club in time for their move. Ironically, they are managed by Pat Scully, the man who led Shamrock Rovers to promotion ahead of their long-desired move to Tallaght, although he parted company with the club in the final season before the permanent switch.