The chair of Bray Municipal Council, Chris Fox, has said he believes the local authority should provide greater support to Bray Wanderers.
However he dismisses the notion, contained in a statement issued on Thursday by the club’s chairman, Gerry Mulvey, that the Carlisle Grounds might be rezoned with the proceeds going to fund a new stadium and academy on the outskirts of the town.
“I do think there is an onus on the council to help the club, we all want to see a healthy Bray Wanderers,” says Fox, an Independent councillor.
“But my biggest gripe with the statement is the assumption that if the Carlisle Grounds was to be rezoned, the proceeds would go to the club.
“But the statement is all the more surprising because if that is what they actually want then there is a process they can enter into and they have not done that.”
Many aspects of the club chairman’s statement are, indeed, surprising, most obviously the tone, with Mulvey comparing Wicklow to North Korea more than once and suggesting the club is “suppressed” before adding that, “a revolution of football is going to start and Bray Wanderers will be the leaders not just for Wicklow but for Ireland in this revolt”.
Mulvey claims the club will press ahead with plans to purchase the land required for a new home and an academy modelled, it is suggested, on those at the likes of Manchester United or Barcelona.
But he adds the club: “will be seeking from Wicklow County Council the rezoning of the land in the Carlisle Grounds with the development proceeds used to fund the construction of what will be the best academy and sporting grounds in the country”.
No potential value is attached to the rezoning in the statement although industry sources suggest a site of that size (around five acres) in that location, with favourable planning, would be worth €8-10 million, perhaps significantly more.
There is no explanation, though, of why the council would want to rezone something that has been a sports facility for comfortably more than a century or why, in the event that it did, it would give all of the proceeds to Wanderers and its owner.
The club has consistently argued since Mulvey took over that it wants to build a multi-sport facility that would be of broader benefit to the town’s population but Fox says that such a development is already being considered by the council at a 50-acre site based around a disused quarry to the west of the town.
“The hope is to build a regional sports centre which would include state-of-the-art training facilities although I would have thought that they would have complemented the playing of games by Bray at the Carlisle Grounds.
“I appreciate my views on how Bray Wanderers is run are of no real consequence, of course, but I cannot see the Carlisle Grounds being rezoned. I am in favour of the status quo and I think most of the councillors have said the same – and I cannot see it being sold to fund the future of the club.”