Following ongoing speculation and rumours over the past weekend about the future of Limerick FC, Chairman Pat O’Sullivan has released the following statement.
The O’Sullivan Family and their company, the club’s main sponsor Galtee Fuels, over the past 12 months have made it clear that they can no longer continue to fund the club to the level that they have in the past number of seasons.
My first involvement began when Limerick Football Club called a public meeting on the 12th July 2009. This meeting was for the purpose of trying to raise funds to keep the club alive as the then owner of senior soccer had given written instructions that unless financial support from the people of Limerick was given then the club was to be closed down the following day. At this meeting I was the only person that stated that I was willing to give financial support to the club.
On the 14th July I put the club in funds to meet its immediate financial needs.
Promptly, I met with the club Committee, the senior team manager and the players and assured them that I would meet the liabilities of the club for the remainder of the season. When I took over senior soccer my commitment was to:
- 1. Bring the club to Premier status
- 2. Return the club to its natural home, the Markets Field
- 3. And also to put the club on a sustainable pathway through the development of underage structures, and to find a suitable base for the club to call its home
To ensure that soccer continued to be the largest played sport in the region, I applied for a licence to the FAI and was successful. My reason for saving Limerick soccer was driven by a number of factors including using sport to change the perception of Limerick at the time which had significant ongoing anti-social issues.
Limerick soccer has never had a pathway or structure from schoolboy to senior soccer to allow those who wish to play this sport to do so at the highest level with the best of coaching in parallel.
We started with Baby Blues at three years of age in 2010. We have now bridged the gap from schoolboys to our senior team. We now have an Under-19 team playing in the Elite League. We will have a national Under-17 team commencing in August. We have produced in excess of 20 young international players playing for Ireland. Over the past two weeks, seven Limerick youths played International soccer for Ireland.
The purpose of the investment in the underage structure was to provide a conveyor system of local players for our senior team, and we have achieved this.
We support ladies soccer; we would like to do much more here.
We fully fund and sustain special needs soccer teams.
Limerick senior soccer has never had a home of its own. We have now addressed this matter by the purchase of the FCJ convent in Bruff, along with extra lands which will become a regional Centre of Excellence for soccer when completed, for which we expect full planning permission during February 2015.
The club will also return to the Markets Field in March 2015 which had been one of my original ambitions.
With the reduction of the significant annual sponsorship that has been provided by Galtee Fuels and the O’Sullivan Family over the past six years, this requires that the club must now learn to live within its means. A position which should not be uncommon or a surprise to many individuals and companies that has observed what has happened in our country over the past number of years.
I am committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Limerick senior soccer which brings many social benefits to our community.
In conclusion I wish to thank all who have supported the club over the past years – commercially, voluntary and paid employees – and I look forward to your continued support to achieving the further development of Limerick soccer and its collaboration with other sports to assist in the process of healthy living particularly for our valued youth.