NO RE­GRETS AFTER STATE­MENT DRAMA

Bray People - - SPORT - DANIEL GOR­MAN Sports Re­porter

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.

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