Bray Wanderers say Carlisle Grounds ball is in politicians' court
Chairman suggests politicians come up with alternatives if they will not support move
Bray Wanderers would like to move from move from the Carlisle Grounds to an as yet unidentified green-field site on the N11. Photograph: Inpho
Bray Wanderers chairman Denis O’Connor has suggested that local politicians should come up with alternative ways for the club to develop if they want to stand in the way of its proposed move from the Carlisle Grounds to an as yet unidentified green-field site on the N11.
O’Connor was reacting to criticism of a scheme, confirmed in the club’s new ‘five year strategic plan’, whereby Wanderers would surrender its sporting lease on its current home back to Wicklow County Council so that the ground could be redeveloped for commercial or other purposes - and in return the local authority would assist it with its relocation and development of new sports complex and academy.
The plan is highly ambitious but has attracted some scepticism and critics fear that it could ultimately lead to the demise not just of the Carlisle Grounds, a sports facility for more than 150 years, but also the club.
“The lease which Bray Wanderers hold for the Grounds is very specific for sporting activities,” said Sinn Féin TD John Brady with regard to the plan. “I would be totally opposed to any changes to the zoning which would allow any commercial development to take place on the site.
“As there is a deficit for playing pitches in the area, if Bray Wanderers have no further need for the Grounds there are many other sporting clubs that would be only too happy to avail of them.”
But O’Connor insists that with costs dwarfing income, Wanderers needs a home at which it can generate non-match related income so that it can progress and achieve its stated goals of full-time football, qualification for Europe and the expansion of its youth development and community programmes.
“The club’s gate receipts in 2015 were €108,000 and in 2016 they were €94,000 while our senior team costs were €560,000 so it is obvious that we would not survive as things stand without substantial shareholder funds.
“We are looking at a lot of way of improving the situation but we have to be in a position to use our ground to generate other funds and that is not the case with the Carlisle grounds at present.
“I’m glad that our strategic plan has got people’s attention and generated a debate because that can only be a good thing for the club but I would call on all of the local public representatives to come forward with their proposals on the future of the club if they are opposed to proposing here.”
In its plan, the club suggests it could be in a new home by the start of the 2021 season although at this stage that is just a statement of what would be possible if everything fell into place from the time that it opens up talks with the council, something it hopes to do as early as February of next year. Nobody from the council, in a position to comment could be contacted on Friday.
The club is, meanwhile, at an advanced stage of negotiations with Bective Rangers about the use of their Glanamuck facility, near Stepaside, as a training ground for it and St Joseph’s Boys.
Former Bray interim manager Maciej Tarnogrodzki has joined UCD as Under-19 coach while Wexford Youths have appointed Damian Locke as their first team manager following the departure of Shane Keegan for Galway United.
The 29 year-old, who started his coaching career a decade ago with the Kerry Kennedy Cup team moved on IT Tralee before studying and coaching at IT Carlow. During his time there, he started working with Youths as a coach as well as various FAI teams, including the senior men’s side, as part of the video analysis team. He also managed local side Crettyard United to three straight junior league titles.
“I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity,” he says. “It’s a club that has put a lot of emphasis on developing its own players and now they are showing that they are prepared to do the same thing with their managers.
“It’s something I’ve been working towards for years now. The important thing now is to make sure I take the chance. I’m going to give it everything.”
Locke, whose first task is to assemble a squad he feels can bounce back from relegation, talked to five members of last year’s panel today, his first day in the job, and says he will sit down with the rest to assess who is available to him before looking elsewhere for players. “I think they deserve that,” he said.
St Patrick’s Athletic have confirmed that striker Christy Fagan has signed a new two year deal with the club. The 27 year-old former under-21 international, who was the league’s top scorer and PFAI Player of the Year in 2014, is believed to have been the subject of approaches from a number of other clubs including, Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers.