Rad­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing to pro­vide ‘bedrock’ for Bray

Bray People - - SPORT -

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.

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