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Narin and Portnoo golf club members divided on way forward as EGM looms

Decision on future of club ownership facing members

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Narin and Portnoo now among Ireland's top 30 golf courses

Members at Narin and Portnoo Golf Club are due to meet at an emergency general meeting next Friday.

Members of a Donegal golf club which is facing the threat of receivership are divided on the best way forward, a senior member of the club has said.
Narin and Portnoo Golf Club faces an emergency general meeting tonight following the purchase of the golf club’s €1.7m debt by a US-based businessman.
Liam McDevitt, who is originally from Ballyshannon, has said he will bring in a receiver to protect his investment. He has promised to clear the debt, invest in the club and give members a 100-year licence.
While some members of the club are in favour of the move by Mr McDevitt, whose late father is from the area, others believe there is an alternative, and don’t wish the club to go into private ownership, club treasurer Seamus McDonagh said.
Mr McDevitt has acquired €1.71m of debt the club owed to Ulster Bank. Last year the debt was passed on to Cerberus, a US private equity firm specialising in distressed investing.
Mr McDevitt owns the debt and the loans are secured by the clubs assets.
Three holes, about 20 per cent of the course, are owned by a local family who have leased the land to the club. The security for the loans is the other 80 per cent, the clubhouse and machinery buildings.
Mr McDonagh said the club had attempted to do a deal to buy the debt off Cerberus but he says those bids “were ignored”.
He said the guarantee of a 100-year licence is something that would be available for members regardless of Mr McDevitt's offer as the club “can be nothing else but a golf club”.

MOTION TO MEMBERS
He said a motion to members of the club on Friday will give three options: negotiate with Mr McDevitt and the people he chooses, negotiate with Mr McDevitt and the people the club’s council chooses, or enter into receivership.
“He wants to sit down with people of his choosing to negotiate a contract he has outlined on paper,” Mr McDonagh said.
Mr McDonagh said members are split on what the future of the club should be.
“The majority of people in the area want to hold on to it. As a council we won’t be putting forward any side. What we have been trying to do is have a vote on his plan and a plan to hold on to it.
“We have options and we want to put our options forward. One option is to let the receiver be called in and then fight him in the courts.

UNDER PRESSURE
“Members are feeling under pressure but there are other options and there is no fear that there will be no golf. There is nothing else that can be done with the site. It is a golf course.”
Mr McDonagh said that if the offer from Mr McDevitt had not come through, the club could have a deal similar to one struck between Cerberus and a golf club in Co. Cavan. “We would have got something similar and the members would have been able to handle that level of debt.”
He claimed Mr McDevitt has declined to negotiate with a sub-committee that was setup to negotiate with him.
In a statement issued last week to the Donegal Democrat Mr McDevitt said he was disappointed that members have not been given the opportunity to vote on any of the terms.
“Unfortunately, no progress has been made as it relates to negotiations with the club’s management and the members have not been given the opportunity to vote on any of the terms that I have presented.
“ I have been a member of the club on and off for nearly 50 years and it is with regret that I must appoint a receiver to take control of the assets associated with the loans that I have purchased to protect my investment.”