Fraudulent Dreams: Cork City Wound Up

Cork

Cork City FC have just a few days left. As the club’s official statement said today “Following High Court proceedings today, Cork City FC has been given until Friday to settle its liabilities to the Revenue.”

That amount is €439,000, and it seems rather unlikely Cork will raise that sum by Friday, despite another appeal to supporters to help out. The problem stems from serious financial mismanagement of the club over the past few years, leaving debts the club has been unable to get themselves out of.

A year ago, the Irish Independent reported that “They are arguably the most marketable club in the League of Ireland with good attendances, a decent stadium and a large catchment area with no opposition of substance. Yet the tragic reality is that this morning, Cork City’s very survival hangs in the balance.”

Unable to resolve their financial crises since then, Cork have just a few days left now to find a way to survive.

It has been a long road for Cork to this final denouement. Formed in 1984 amidst the ashes of numerous failed Cork football club dreams (Cork Celtic tried to hit the big time with George Best and Geoff Hurst, but ended up bankrupt in 1979), the club had some notable success, with two league titles and a famous 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich in 1991.

The passionate and strong crowds at times showed potential, but this promise has often translated into reckless ambition, epitomised by the takoever of the club by shady investment fund Arkaga in 2007.

Arkaga promised to to pump funds in and make Cork Ireland’s biggest success story. But Arkaga were gambling on the formation of a potentially lucrative All-Ireland League raising the value of their investment — when this fizzled out, they reneged on their promises of investment and left the club €1.3 million in debt.

And unfortunately for Cork fans, it soon became evident that Arkaga were headed by a man “fraudulently misrepresenting himself” as a Lamborghini dealer. When Arkaga pulled the plug, Cork were left in disarray — players were forced to take a 70% pay cut, and a dozen staff were laid off. The FAI’s Chief Executive John Delaney was scathing in his criticism of Arkaga: “What Arkaga did is a disgrace. It’s just not right what they did. To leave people down, leave the club down, the supporters down, the management and players down, is just not right.”

Since the departure of Arkaga, the club has been unable to find a sure financial footing, despite the players continual willingness to forgo pay and the help of Cork native Roy Keane, who brought over his Ipswich team for a lucrative recent friendly.

Cork’s demise is symbolic of the ongoing financial crisis in the League of Ireland (we reported last year on the problems at Cobh Ramblers). Costs continue to exceed income across the league, who seem unable to keep their clubs on a path of fiscal prudence.

2 thoughts on “Fraudulent Dreams: Cork City Wound Up

  1. Stephen Piggott

    Nice article Tom. Its all over the news here. The friendly with Ipswich got them about 150,000 I believe. I know that Ipswich allowed City to take all of the revenue. They had a City fan on the radio here yesterday and they were asking him about the upcoming game against Bray and he said he didnt have a clue if the match was going to happen or not. They used to have a club shop but now they have moved to a hut not too far away (literally) to sell tickets. The whole thing is a disaster.

  2. Adrian Ludbrook

    I was at the Cork vs Ipswich game just over a week ago, one of the 200 or so Town fans who made the trip over. I know Cork well, used to work there occasionally, great city, great people and a crying shame that this is happening to Ireland’s biggest club.

    And the problem? For a large part the insatiable appetite of England and Scotland for the cream of Irish players, and Sky TV’s saturation of Eire with English and European football.

    So far this year I’ve watched games in the Malaysian Super League and now a game at an Eircom League of Ireland club and seen the same thing, the locals hooked on the English Premier League and turning their backs on football in their own country. Lack of quality is often the reason given by locals, but if these people put more support into their local club, watched games, bought merchandise etc, the leagues would become stronger.

    In Cork I drank in a pub that was the HQ of the Cork branch of the Chelsea Supporters Club, and had a long chat with a member of Cork West Ham supporters. These people watch up to 30 games a year travelling to the UK, so there is money in Eire for football, but it is landing in the FA’s pockets, not the FAI. This is in no way a dig at the good people of Cork, they love the game and have done all they can as individuals to raise the money to save their club, and in many cases these allegiances to English clubs formed when Ireland offered no real alternative. The blame lies in the modern game, slick marketing by UEFA and the FA, the excessive use of foreign players robbing smaller nations of their rising talent, too much football on the television when people should be at games, investors who know nothing about the history and culture of the sport, the list goes on.

    Good luck Corcaigh and the Rebel Army.