Blackrock say deal that may bring soccer to Stradbrook makes financial sense
Cabinteely expected to get green light to enter SSE Airtricity League by end of next week with rugby ground as their home
The Blackrock Rugby grounds at Stradbrook. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Blackrock Rugby Club president Seamus Taaffe says that a deal that will allow Cabinteely FC play League of Ireland football at Stradbrook in the event that their application for league membership this season is successful is in line with the club’s previously stated plans to use their ground as a multi-sport facility.
Blackrock members voted to change their rules with regard to the use of Stradbrook some 18 months ago, ahead of more than a year of negotiations with GAA club Cuala over a complex deal that involved the sale of part of their home, the development of an all-weather pitch and the sharing of some facilities that had an estimated value of some €2.5 million.
The talks eventually broke down late last year, in part, Taaffe acknowledges, because of an improvement in Blackrock’s fortunes. But times remain challenging for the rugby club whose All Ireland League game against Old Wesley at the weekend, their biggest at Stradbrook in several years, attracted only around 500 people.
Neither side will put a value on the deal with Cabinteely, but it is undoubtedly a very modest affair compared to the Cuala proposal, with the football club – which has 54 teams but no senior one competing at any level since they departed the Leinster Senior League a couple of years ago – expecting to play up to 14 games a season, and Blackrock collecting a straight rental on the pitch.
Cabinteely chairman Martin Smith agrees: “It’s a good fit. There’s a bit of an overlap at the start and the end of our season, but we’ll cope with that.”
Smith declined to discuss the club’s proposed membership of the SSEAirtricity League in any detail, citing confidentiality clauses in the application process, but confirms that the club has submitted a licence application and expresses the hope that they will receive news of how they have fared over the next week or two.
The general belief is that theirs is the only application, and with Shamrock Rovers about to finally publicly confirm the withdrawal of their B team and the FAI anxious to even up numbers, it would be expected to have been well received. Some small practical difficulties will have to be overcome, with clubs required to have a minimum of 50 seats for club officials and other VIPs, but the rules are not especially demanding in terms of spec and, given the numbers involved, Cabinteely may bring them in for games.
If successful, Cabinteely will be the seventh club from Dublin/north Wicklow competing in the 20-team, two division league.
If the club is granted a place, current director of coaching Eddie Gormley is expected to manage the team.