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New dawn for Cobh Ramblers

Wednesday, 10th July, 2019 5:06pm

Cobh’s oldest football club is set to become fan-owned in a bid to turn around its fortunes and secure its future.

Cobh Ramblers have announced it is to become a co-operative, meaning it is controlled and operated by its members.

It comes in an attempt to secure the future of the club, which has struggled with financial issues in recent years. Ramblers, which has over 120 players across five national league teams, recently announced a playing budget cut of 25 per cent in an attempt to ease its financial burden.

Cobh Ramblers Vice Chairman Billy O’Leary told the Cork Independent: “We are a club approaching our centenary, with a great history and obviously some famous past players.

“We’ve traditionally had a strong connection with the town, but it has been weakened in recent years.

“So this is about hopefully recovering some of that connection.”

He continued: “We hope to grow to a few hundred members but this is a great place to start and has put us on a stronger legal footing as well with regards to money being available in the future.”

He said that a new permanent board will be elected in the coming months and there were a number of “young, energetic” members committed to seeing the club get on a more stable footing.

Adding that he hoped the positivity of the “by-the-fans, for-the-fans” model would also benefit Ramblers, he said: “We would hope this would also target former Cobh people who might have emigrated through our international membership, as well as capitalising on the great tourism aspect of Cobh as a town.”

With the new board attempting to stabilise the club's finances in the last three months, it has also faced difficulties on the pitch, including the departure of manager Stephen Henderson last month along with a number of playing staff.

Announcing its new membership structure this week, the club said it had a “long and proud history” and hoped the change would restore the support of its community.

It said changing its structure would align the club with current tax and business requirements for clubs and allow extra cash to be released, including ‘mast rental’ revenue from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The co-operative model has already been used successfully by Ramblers' close neighbours Cork City FC, who have been owned by their supporters's group FORAS since 2010, as well as several other League of Ireland Clubs.

In a recent mid-season statement posted online, the club admitted it was “continuing to face the challenges of running a League of Ireland club on a day-to-day basis”, but said it was committed to working on measures which would be “critical to help sustain this great club”.

Members can choose between local, national and international memberships at different pricings and with different benefits. All memberships will give the member equal voting rights at club general meetings and EGMs, with other benefits including club shop discounts and the ability to run for board positions.

Members who sign up during the current season will receive a 50 per cent discount for the remainder of the season, with the club having an initial target of at least 100.

As well as its new membership model, the club is continuing to appeal for volunteers and sponsorship opportunities. It also has a number of fundraising events planned in the coming months, including a Joe Dolan tribute night on 26 July.

Those interested in becoming a member can do so by going to clubforce.ie/cobhramblers or by going to the club office from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  
 

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