Harps’ fundraising eating into debt four weeks before deadline

Alan Foley


Alan Foley

Finn Harps have recouped approximately one-quarter of the €48,000 they need to ascertain a playing licence for next season.

Finn Harps have recouped approximately one-quarter of the €48,000 they need to ascertain a playing licence for next season.

Club chairman Joey O’Leary informed the club’s shareholders earlier this month that figure, which equates to the payables from the season, must be met by December 21 or the club faces extinction. O’Leary added this week the response to date has been excellent but believes the process will run right down the wire.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire and there’s a lot going on,” he said. “The response has been excellent and I cannot fault everyone. We have a committee in place and outside of that, some of the supporters have taken it on their own back to help out in any way they can. At the minute we have pulled in €12,000 and there’s still an awful lot going on and a lot to be collected but it’s going to take work on a daily basis and we expect things to run right up to the deadline. We must be mindful of the fact it’s only four weeks away”

O’Leary chairs a weekly fundraising meeting alongside his seven board members and eight volunteers who have come in to help balance the books. The most profitable of the junctures so far comprises of individuals or businesses contributing a €100 each in return for entry to the Finn Harps lotto for the entire year of 2012. So far “almost 100” people have signed up, according to the chairman.

One significant fundraiser that won’t be happening is a Finn Park friendly against Airtricity League Premier Division champions Shamrock Rovers. The two clubs have built a bond since Harps supporters made a donation to the Dubliners during their financial difficulties in 2005 and a game between the two in Ballybofey was mooted in certain quarters.

The Tallaght outfit, though, are unable to make the journey to the north-west as they have a pre-arranged friendly away to Sweden’s Malmo, as well as taking on Rubin Kazan in Russia and Tottenham Hotspur at home in the Uefa Europa League in the coming weeks. However, Shamrock Rovers supporters have been purchased up to 300 tickets to Harps’ ‘Monster Draw’ to assist the Ballybofey club.

That draw, with tickets still available for €10 and a first prize of €5,000, was to take place at half-time during the fixture against Michael O’Neill’s team, but has now been pencilled in for the awards’ night on Saturday, December 3, at the Finn Valley Centre in Stranorlar. Harps’ player of the year and young player of the year awards will also be presented that night.

Local photographer Gerard McHugh has organised a ‘Night at the Races,’ which will take place in the Villa Rose and there is a ‘Poker Night’ on Friday at Barcelona Bar. Then, on Friday week, December 2, there will be fundraising gig, also at Barcelona Bar, which has been arranged by Greg Gorman from Bluestacks Jamclub.

Conor Malone from the Balor Theatre will host a similar event later on December 28. Rodney Dullaghan will next weekend start an English Premier League ‘Last Man Standing,’ with €500 for the eventual winner and all other monies raised going to the club. Moves have been made to play a supporters’ match in early December.

Harps officials are currently working on their licence application, which must be submitted to the FAI Licensing Committee by November 30. The submission date for final salary cost protocol declaration for the 2011 season is December 21, which is what the fundraisers are putting their efforts into. The extended deadline for other financial information such as audited accounts is January 30 and the licences will be granted in the second week in February.

“Whilst we are have laid the foundation for the first team and U-19 side with new management structures in place, we as a board would like to lay a solid foundation for the business and run it correctly,” O’Leary said.

“We’d like to maintain the current level of support from here on and would like to start next season and other seasons on a positive note, without these financial worries.”