Radical restructuring to provide ‘bedrock’ for Bray
BRAY WANDERERS manager, Alan Mathews, believes Bray Wanderers Community Football Club could provide the “bedrock” for Bray Wanderers in the coming years, writes Daniel Gorman.
BWCFC, an initiative that will see a communityowned company help fund and run the football club, has been created to secure a safer future for the Seagulls.
Although Mathews will not be heavily involved with the radical new campaign, he is throwing his weight behind the idea, which he feels will take his side to the next level.
“I think it’s a very positive initiative for the club going forward. I think any sporting body within the community needs to have strong ties with that place and I think the people are striving to do that. They’ve got the long-term future of the club at heart.
“It’s something that I think will give the club stability. Hopefully this new project will be the bedrock and something that will be strong for the club to build on for a long period going forward.”
BWCFC will be a separate entity to Bray Wanderers, and Mathews will also be keeping his priorities separate as he remains fully committed to managing the club.
“I just concentrate on the football end of it. I just have to make sure that we do our best on the pitch. My job is very, very clear; but I will help out and participate in any way, shape or form that I can. I want to remain focussed on the team. We’ll do everything that we can on the pitch and ensure that we do as well as we can. I’m not going to get involved in areas that I wouldn’t have expertise in. I’m completely new to the environment and I just want to focus and concentrate on the team.”
Supporters will be hoping that funds raised by the new venture will be pumped into player recruitment, but Mathews is not expecting to be handed a blank cheque anytime soon.
“That’s long term. Initially, it’s to provide the club with its contacts and with its basis in the community and ultimately, provide a base to maybe get a training ground, maybe to put playing facilities in the Carlisle Grounds – things like that. They’d be brilliant, not just looking for resources to get players for this season or next season or the year after. You need to look at the bigger picture whereby the ground becomes an integral part of the community and I think that’s what the club are looking to develop and grow. Initially, if we can attract more quality to areas in the club – in youth development areas to the guys on the U-19’s and the guys coming through to the first team, if they can be trained in a better environment and if they can be trained with better facilities, it produces a better player. And the flipside of it is, if resources are available, you can put together a squad that might be able to get you to compete up at the top end of the league. But I think that’s a long way down the road.”
The company, Bray Wanderers Community Football Club (BWCFC), has been set up to raise funds for the football team, help pay down the club’s debt and finance projects to develop amenities for the local community at Wanderers’ stadium, the Carlisle Grounds.
The move is the cornerstone of a comprehensive restructuring of how the Airtricity Premier League club is run – and those behind the move believe the process could provide a blueprint for sustainable football in Ireland into the future.
Substantial debt has been written off by some shareholders in Bray Wanderers Ltd. A majority of shareholders have agreed to transfer their stakes in the club to the new company once the remaining debt is paid off and help realise the vision of Bray Wanderers being owned and operated by the local community for the benefit of the local community.
Supporters and business leaders have hailed the move as “revolutionary” and a “massive boost” for the whole community.
The new initiative is being driven by a group of prominent businessman led by club President and prominent Bray businessmen Philip Hannigan (pictureed above with players Jake Kelly and Ishmael Akinade) – who owns cutting tools company ‘Hard Metal’ in the Co Wicklow Town – and a ‘think tank’ of select individuals with a proven track record in developing strong sustainable businesses.
The group has volunteered to help steer the club through the changes and use their expertise to rally support from the business community in south Dublin and Co Wicklow.
The new company BWCFC is already formed and is limited by guarantee. It have a seven person board and will be operated by volunteers drawn from the community. The founding members of the BWCFC board are: Philip Hannigan – President, Bray Wanderers FC; Rory Benville – President, Bray Chamber of Commerce; Eddie Cox – Chairman, Bray Wanderers FC; John Hannigan – Managing Director, Sunbeam House Services Ltd; Peter Byrne – Senior Manager, Ulster Bank; Terry O’Neill – Chairman, Bray Wanderers Supporter club.
Fund-raising initiatives are already well progressed, with Wanderers also forming closer ties with schools and football clubs in their 250,000strong catchment area in Wicklow and South County Dublin. The club is also pursuing a naming sponsor for the Carlisle Grounds, which is prominently placed next to Bray Dart station near the seafront, and will also seek planning permission for a gym, meeting rooms and all-weather training pitch.