Chairman expresses his concerns over Harps’ future

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Finn Harps chairman Joey O’Leary has warned of his concern over the financial requirements needed for the club to secure a license to continue in existence next season.

Finn Harps chairman Joey O’Leary has warned of his concern over the financial requirements needed for the club to secure a license to continue in existence next season.

O’Leary said Harps must raise approximately E50,000 over the next three months to pay the bills for the season about to finish ahead of the imminent application to the FAI Club Licensing Committee. He has encouraged some of the club’s stay-away fans to attend the last home game of the season against Wexford Youths on Saturday night.

“I’d definitely say it’s concerning,” he said this week of the club’s plight. “The biggest thing at the moment is the lack of support. Gate receipts are drastically down. We’re trying to encourage as many fans as we can to attend the Wexford game, particularly those fans who haven’t been to Finn Park for a season or two to come back and support the club. There’s been an awful lot of negative talk around the club for the past couple of years but there’s a lot of good things going on at the same time.

“The current management team of Peter Hutton, Felix Healy and Sean ‘Wizard’ McGowan is very strong and will have their own squad assembled for the start of the new campaign. Sean has his team top of the northern section of the U-19 league ahead of Premier Division clubs such as Sligo Rovers and Derry City.

“We’re delighted with that and of course Peter and Felix are working at securing the futures of some of the young squad we have now for next season. We’d like the fans to come along and support the club on Saturday and see the good work being put in.”

Harps will host a Special General Meeting on Sunday, November 6, and at this meeting a new board will be elected. An emergency motion is planned for that night to increase the size of the existing board and the shareholders in attendance will learn of the exact figure needed to meet the FAI’s licensing requirements.

“At the meeting in November we hope to add to the board,” O’Leary said. “We have seven people on board right now. There’s too much work being done by too few.

“We’ll have to continue to work hard after the last ball is kicked. From the board’s point of view the off-season is by far the busiest time of the year.”

The deadline for League of Ireland clubs to submit completed licence application to FAI licensing manager is November 30, although financial documentation is not needed in its entirety until January 30. In February, the FAI Club Licensing Committee makes first instance decision for awarding of league licences.

“We really need to look at bringing in E40,000 to E50,000 to tidy the season up and secure the license for 2012,” the ciarman added. “The licensing scenario is pretty strict - you need to have you bills paid and you have to have your wages paid - so there’s consequences. A lot of work will be needed.

“I firmly believe there are a number of clubs in both the Premier Division and the First Division will struggle to get a licence next year. The fact is if you do not get a licence then there isn’t even the old A Championship, which has been done away with now, to drop into so it’s very concerning.”