Cork has a troubled history when it comes to football clubs. Various entities have tasted success and gone out of business over the years and a key focus for FORAS was to find a way to help maintain a sustainable football club in the county. Original proposals included training facilities or the creation of an asset that might be rented or leased to the club for a nominal fee and the ultimate goal was always to gain a shareholding at some stage in the future.
Several months after starting to put the paperwork and foundations in place and just as FORAS was ready for an official launch, Cork City Football Club went into examinership. The crisis meant that hundreds of people joined the co-operative within days and the trust itself played a key role in helping CCFC to survive the process.
It was not long before further problems began to surface under the new owner though, and FORAS was quickly forced to rethink its decision to be involved with the club directly – particularly on match nights. As relations deteriorated, FORAS met with FAI officials and decided to apply for the First Division licence for the following season (2011).
The forward thinking was vital as Cork City Football Club was beset with financial difficulties throughout 2010 and was again threatened with the possibility of liquidation. FORAS was part of an attempted takeover of CCFC – along with two local businessmen – but when the club failed to get any licence for 2011, it was time to go it alone.
The trust established a new football club and squad in less than two weeks and took to the field for their first league match in Derry as Cork City FORAS Co-op (FC), completed with several high-profile sponsors from the wider business community. It has since regained the Cork City Football Club name from the liquidators and now plays under that name in the Airtricity League.
Membership has grown from strength to strength over the three years of FORAS existence and supporters and trustees make up the majority of volunteers that help with match night activities, fundraising and community events.
The idea of owning your own football club is still a relatively new one in Irish football and FORAS success in getting a football club off the ground has led to massive goodwill and encouragement around the city and county.
The challenge now is to make the club sustainable and get the message out there that Cork City FC stands for doing its business properly, for running its finances on an ethical and moral basis and, above all, for becoming an integral part of the sporting community in Cork.