Galway United director Jonathan Corbett admits the imminent financial injection from the Comer Brothers is essential to propel the westerners to the next level.
Although the FAI Cup success overseen by Joey Malone in 1991 was supposed to be the springboard for success, Galway’s existence has resided in either crisis or continuity mode since. They even went two years, 2012 and 2013, without having a team in the League of Ireland.
Much like the uprising in Cork, it took the fans to intervene and while financial stability has been achieved, there is a reality of a ceiling.
John Caulfield has the first team in the mix for promotion to the Premier Division but the local billionaire brothers aren’t stopping at mere membership of the top flight.
Underpinning their offer of purchasing a vast majority 85% ownership stake in the club was the ambition of delivering the “on-field success” for a sport-mad city and county.
It won’t act in a vacuum, for the property developer brothers Luke and Brian committed to other aspects of a club with a thriving underage section led by the man whose goal won them the cup at Lansdowne Road all of 31 years ago, Johnny Glynn .
Their prospectus issued in advance to the 120-strong membership of the club’s cooperative quantified their “donation” in sponsorship since 2013 at € 1.8m.
The extra cash – initially rising their contribution to € 500,000 per year – is earmarked for five other aspects, namely Academy structures, training facilities at they Mountain South site they acquired and other development opportunities, specific facility improvements at Eamonn Deacy Park, educational partnerships for academy players, and commercial and back-office support resources.
After a lively debate, the vote was carried by an 83% majority. Four of the five voting members in attendance at the ballot in the Connacht Hotel backed the landmark deal.
“It came down to finance, as it always does with League of Ireland clubs,” Corbett, who has also served as the Tribesmen’s chairman, told Galway Bay FM.
“They (the Comers) are winners and want to be at top of the country. They want to invest and bring teams on to next level.
“We don’t get much money off the FAI and that has to change. It’s different from the rugby and that’s why we have to get private investment. This will enable us to breath a bit.
“It was important for us to get the facts out there at the meeting. There were questions and we didn’t hide anything. Some people in there had difficulty with it and that’s fine but the overwhelming majority felt this was the way to go. “
While Corbett was adamant that developing local talent through the system was the priority, he admitted that Caulfield may recruit from outside the county to bolster his squad.
That imperative aside, allowing the club to move beyond a survival phase into a thriving one is the biggest relief.
“This will give us freedom to get out into community for other aspects,” he said. “We’ve probably been held back over last eight years but clubs like Bohemians are doing great work in the community.
“We also have 100 kids in our underage teams. Keeping the show on the road by paying all the costs is a big ask and this will help. Our Academy is the lifeblood of the club and through this injection of money, we can bring more coaches in for more training hours. ”
Corbett is estimating another bumper crowd of over 2,500 for Friday’s visit of Cobh. Galway are in second, three points adrift of Cork City with a game in hand.
“Cobh are always a side that cause teams problems – they work hard and are a very committed outfit,” said Caulfield whose side lost for the first time last week, at Longford Town. “For us, we need to get back to the level that we were playing in the previous four or five weeks.”
Cork are on a roll, looking for their sixth straight victory at Wexford Youths. James Doona and Dylan McGlade are both out but Matt Healy and Cian Coleman could recover from their injuries. Wexford’s Dinny Corcoran is one goal away from reaching a century over his decorated career of him.
“It was important we went back to basics and as a bare minimum achieved our first clean sheet of this season,” said Wexford boss Ian Ryan about their stalemate against Bray Wanderers which stalled their slide. “As a group we must display all the qualities of a good team, some weeks it’s about fighting and other weeks we will use our footballing quality.”