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Cork City takeover hits the rocks and club faces possibility of move away from Turner's Cross

Grovemoor Ltd were unable to agree a lease with the Munster Football Association, who own the club’s home ground, and have thus pulled out of the move.

Cork City flags at Turner's Cross.
Cork City flags at Turner's Cross.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated Dec 17th 2020, 8:00 PM

GROVEMOOR LTD WILL not be taking up its call-option to take over Cork City FC, the club has been informed.

The company, which owns English Championship club Preston North End and is run by Trevor Hemmings, came to the League of Ireland side’s aid earlier this year when City’s prospects of being granted an SSE Airtricity League licence were called into question. Grovemoor purchased the sell-on clauses in the contracts of former City duo Alan Browne and Seán Maguire, both of whom joined their current employers from City who would otherwise have received a portion of any future fee paid by another club for either player’s services.

Amid these negotiations, the prospect of Grovemoor purchasing Cork City as a whole — including their liabilities — was mooted and later acted upon.

The board of Cork City’s supporters’ trust, Foras, favoured the deal, and in October members agreed to sell the club to Grovemoor for €1.

Crucially, however, the proposed sale did not include City’s home ground at Turner’s Cross, which is owned not by the club but by the Munster Football Association (MFA).

In a statement released this evening, City confirmed that Grovemoor Ltd has been unable to agree terms with the MFA over a lease agreement and, as a result, will not be completing its takeover of the club at this time.

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“Grovemoor Ltd has informed the Board of Management that due to being unable to agree terms on a lease agreement with the Munster Football Association (MFA), Grovemoor Ltd will not be proceeding with their option to purchase Cork City Football Club at this time,” the statement began.

“Friends of the Rebel Army Society Ltd (FORAS) will now be proceeding with our own plans for 2021 and implementing a budget which will give us a stable and sustainable team for the 2021 football season.

We can confirm that FORAS has lodged a license application in accordance with the deadlines laid out by the Licensing Department and we remain in constant contact with the FAI with regards our the status of our application. We may seek to negotiate reduced rates with the MFA for Turner’s Cross in line with our budget, which if unsuccessful will result in us exploring alternative venues for playing behind-closed-doors for next season.

“The Board will not be making further comment at this time but will send a full update to our members on our plans, for Tuesday, December 22nd.”

City were relegated to the SSE Airtricity First Division after a shortened but woeful season during which they won only two of their 18 games.

The club now faces a period of increased uncertainty following the fall-through of the long-mooted takeover.

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