NO REGRETS AFTER STATEMENT DRAMA
BRAY WANDERERS do not regret a single word of last week’s highly controversial statement, according to club secretary Martin O’Connor.
O’Connor, brother of former chairman Denis O’Connor, instead declared that they had achieved exactly what they wanted by enticing the county council into discussion.
Both statements were widely ridiculed and mocked as they hit unprecedented viral levels for domestic soccer in the League of Ireland.
The initial statement, issued on Thurs- day, compared Co. Wicklow to North Korea, spoke of rivalling Barcelona and Manchester United and revealed plans were afoot to purchase a new home for the club. It was signed by chairman Gerry Mulvey.
The following statement, issued on Friday, discussed the 1916 Rising, Kim Jong-Un and Jackie Healy Rae. It was not signed by Mulvey. It was also not published on the club’s social media channels.
Despite Mulvey’s signature being absent from Friday’s release, O’Connor confirms that both were penned by the current chairman.
“Gerry issued and approved it”, confirmed O’Connor. “There were others that worked on it as well but Gerry wrote the first draft. It was the same process on the second one. Gerry wrote it but it came through a few of us, we all checked it.
“The first one wasn’t properly checked which is a failure but there was a time constraint on the first one. We’d more time on the second one and we were under less pressure.
“Maybe the first one should have been checked for typos but would we change anything about either statement? No. Emphatically no.”
It was all an ends to a mean claims O’Connor. Should all of their wishes in both statements come to fruition, Bray Wanderers will benefit hugely both on and off the pitch.
“The answer to all that is to build a proper academy to cater for Wicklow football at all levels.
“Incorporating that, we have to generate significant financial income for the club and it has to be an amount equal to the players’ salaries.
“We need to raise significant money and we’re hoping to generate it through all this.
“We need to cover the players’ salaries and the staff salaries until such time that we have a top three team.
“The target here is to build an academy and create a team that will remain in the top three. We want to solidify ourselves as a top three team.”
O’Connor admits that the club never thought the reaction would be as strong or as widespread as it was but it was borne out of one clear, simple aim brought on by months and months of frustration.
“We wanted to engage Wicklow County Council. We’ve been trying to engage the Wicklow County Council since last November. The purpose of these statements was to engage the Wicklow County Council and we’ve done that – mission accomplished.
“Last November, we distributed the five-year strategic plan to the council.
“We’ve had no engagement with a councillor since then. We requested a meeting with the councillors and we attended an open forum in January.
“We had two objectives that night: to
discuss the five-year plan and to get the council’s permission for us to use the Carlisle Grounds for events other than football.
“We wanted to raise finances for the club through concerts and a Christmas market with a skating rink – all sorts. We had no response.
“We then submitted a document in conjunction with the WDFL and the WDSL. We still haven’t gotten a response.
“So what we really wanted was for the county council to engage with us.
“We’ve a very ambitious plan and we want them to engage with us on that. But we can’t get a response and we’ve been trying since November.
“We want the council to get on board with us or to at least engage with us.”
In a statement released last Thursday, Wicklow County Council said that: “As landlord of the Carlisle Grounds, Wicklow County Council has not been approached or had any discussion with Bray Wanderers with regard to the redevelopment of the Carlisle Grounds.
“The Carlisle Grounds are zoned recreational and it is a function of the elected members of Wicklow County Council to amend zoning.
A representative of the football club requested to attend the monthly meeting of Bray Municipal District and did so in January of this year. Their five-year strategic plan was presented to councilors at that meeting.
“There have been no further discus- sions on the future of the club with Wicklow County Council,” it read..
As the club itself declared in Friday’s statement, they drew attention from “Irish, United Kingdom, European, American and Asian Media. No football Club in Ireland has ever had so much publicity.” So shocking was the first statement that an FAI official thought that the email was the result of a hacking.
“We didn’t expect such footfall. We didn’t expect the amount of hits we got on social media. We didn’t expect it to emblaze all over the media but the whole purpose was to highlight our issues. The idea was we’d use our social medial links to highlight the issues that are stopping us from progressing.
“We thought there’d be a reaction but certainly not to that extent.
“A lot of people found the first statement fairly incredible. Within 10 minutes of it being released, an FAI official rang me to ask would I check had our website been hacked. It was a big attention-grabber.”
The statements and other off-field turmoil appeared to have taken their toll on manager Harry Kenny on Friday evening. Following Bray’s 2-3 loss to Finn Harps, Kenny openly questioned his future and admitted that he has considered his position. Martin O’Connor however is confident that he will remain at the Carlisle Grounds.
“I had a long chat with Harry on Friday night and like the rest of us, he was bitterly disappointed at the result.
“Things are difficult. It’s been a rough few weeks. I wouldn’t be concerned. Harry has a vision for where he can take us. I certainly wouldn’t be questioning Harry’s commitment.
“He’s very proactive and I’m not expecting a call from him to tell me he’s leaving.
“We were all very disappointed on Friday and Harry said those things directly after the match but I’m not concerned.”
O’Connor declined to comment on former media liaison officer Jillian Godsil’s open letter about the club, saying that it “speaks for itself”.
He also laughed off rumours that Arklow property investor Greg Kavanagh was involved with the club.