League of Ireland club Bray Wanderers claim to be taking on ‘North Korea’, according to a bizarre statement by incoming chairman Gerry Mulvey on the club website. His proposed football academy stymied, Mulvey has compared local Wicklow Council to the notorious Communist dictatorship. As troubled Bray face Finn Harps, Libero visits the Carlisle Grounds.
Chairman, eh? Where would football be without them?
Take Silvio Berlusconi and Louis Nicollin. The former Italian Prime Minister may have extolled the virtues of Mussolini and described Barack Obama as tanned, but he made Milan champions of Europe. The corpulent Nicollin stood up before the elected notables of Montpellier and declared, ‘Football!! Football!! Football gives me a hard-on!’, but it was at an official dinner after his club had won the French title.
Which brings us to Gerry Mulvey and Bray Wanderers.
Invited to invest in the troubled League of Ireland club on County Wicklow’s border with Dublin, incoming chairman and property developer Mulvey announced plans to open a ‘world-class football academy’ along the lines of FC Barcelona’s Messi-producing La Masia.
In order to ensure that the next Iniesta and Xavi run out in the green and white of Bray, Mulvey requires proceeds from his mooted sale of Bray’s venerable home, the Carlisle Grounds.
Which means there’s a stumbling block to this new sporting utopia: Wicklow County Council.
As Wicklow actually owns the ground and rents it to Bray Wanderers, Mulvey’s grand plan is scuppered.
And so Mr Mulvey has done a Nicollin.
In what has to be one of the most bizarre statements in Irish sporting history, Chairman Mulvey declared: ‘Wicklow County has unfortunately now attained the accolade of being the North Korea of Ireland for business’.
Comparing the county of Wicklow, birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell, to an ultra-secretive Communist dictatorship, Mulvey also appeared to be evoking the spirit of the legendary Irish Nationalist and Land League leader when he warned council leaders that, ‘all suppressed people’ will ‘eventually revolt’.
The address posted on the club website was Mulvey’s first major public statement since his firm Milway Dawn Limited took control of Bray in July 2015 with a 92% stake.
For its part, Wicklow Council has denied that the seeds of North Korean Communism were growing in the Garden County.
‘Wicklow County Council is surprised by the statement issued on behalf of Bray Wanderers,’ said a spokesman.
‘As landlord of the Carlisle Grounds, Wicklow County Council has not been approached nor 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 councillors at that meeting.
‘There have been no further discussions on the future of the club with Wicklow County Council.
‘Wicklow County Council would reject any suggestion that the county is anything other than an excellent place to do business and where enterprise is welcomed and encouraged.’
In his now legendary statement, Mr Mulvey also insisted that Bray Wanderers, who have struggled to pay players’ wages this season, were now ‘financially stable’.
But stability and Bray have not gone hand in hand of late.
Facing relegation in 2015, Bray fans staged protests outside the ground, calling on then chairman Denis O’Connor to quit. After challenging O’Connor in the High Court, rival shareholder John Deering decided to end proceedings when Mulvey agreed his current investment in the club.
Earlier this month, Bray’s financial woes resurfaced when players transfer listed themselves in dispute over non-payment of wages.
Mulvey duly stepped in as chairman, telling the players’ union, the PFAI, that the board had found an investor willing to plough €200,000 in to the club to cover costs until the end of the season.
Bray players remain unconvinced, with reports of a revolt at Wednesday’s training session before tonight’s game at home to Finn Harps.
Salaries notwithstanding, Chairman Mulvey has resorted to quoting from the motivational speeches of Yeboah – Ernest Agyemang Yeboah that is, no relation to Ghana and Leeds legend Tony.
Bookending his statement, Mulvey concludes: ‘One great enemy we must all endeavour to fear not conquering is fear… One must always cross the barrier of fear to get to the great city of true purposefulness. A great number of us who are unable to live to accomplish the true reason for our existence on Earth are unable to cross the barrier of fear in the first place’.
Meanwhile at the Carlisle Grounds, Finn Harps prevailed 3-2 despite a brave Bray comeback.