It’s a last throw of the dice for Glentoran
Glentoran Football Club are standing on the verge of extinction and it's future could be determined by shareholders in an EGM tonight.
Tonight, those with a vote must choose whether to accept a proposal for the changing of the club's articles of association and with it a major shake-up to the way that Glentoran is run.
It is one of the most important meetings in the history of the club and looming on a dark and dreary horizon there stands the genuine threat that an icon of east Belfast will go under.
However, should the proposals be given the go ahead then, according to a source close to the club, Glentoran can eventually look forward to a long period of prosperity.
The changes have been put forward by people acting on behalf of a so-called 'mystery benefactor' who has promised to wipe-out debt owed to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, believed to be in the region on £300,000.
It is also thought that another £150,000 will be pumped into the club to ease repayments on other debt, by this knight — or knights — in shining armour who have strictly indicated that should their identity be uncovered they will pull the plug on the deal.
However, having looked into the running of the club it was felt that changes had to be made before such a large sum of cash would be handed over.
The proposals are believed to indicate that a 10-man board be put in place, with three of those places being given, permanently, to people — thought to be prominent and experienced businessmen/women and administrators — completely independent of the club and with no previous links.
Two other permanent places will go to the Glentoran Community Trust, who already have two committee members on the current board.
The remaining five places will run along the same way as is presently the case.
Not since 1941, when the club's bosses opted to keep the club alive and rebuild the Oval following its destruction by Nazi bombers during the Blitz, has one decision been deemed so crucial.
Should shareholders vote against the proposals, the benefactors will not offer their financial support and tomorrow's court date regarding that debt to the tax man could see Glentoran being forced into administration and its assets stripped at a fraction of their worth to pay debts.
Among those assets — and by far the most valuable — is the Oval itself, the club's home since 1892 and selling it off would render Glentoran homeless.
With no Plan B, this appears to be the last throw of the dice , but there remain fears that some current shareholders will not allow such sweeping changes.
A Belfast Telegraph source said: “This EGM is the most important meeting in 70 years and most people feel that it is our last chance of making sure that Glentoran Football Club remains in existence.
“There are some who seem intent on throwing a spanner in the works but seriously, this is it, this is the only option.
“These new proposals are huge and in a way I can see why some people would be cautious because you are changing the way that a club has been run for generations.
“But if this doesn't go ahead then the next generation may not have a club to support. Should shareholders in the majority vote against the changes to the Articles of Association then when we have to go to court on Thursday without a benefactor and with no other option than to fall into administration which would be an absolute disaster and will more than likely spark the beginning of the end.
“Should the changes be accepted though, then there is the belief among those involved in the brokering of the deal that in bringing in this new regime, a very, very bright future could be there for us.”