Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran are on the rise once again but owner demanding even more: Mick McDermott

 

Making progress: Mick McDermott has overseen Glentoran’s rise to fifth place in the table so far this season
Making progress: Mick McDermott has overseen Glentoran’s rise to fifth place in the table so far this season

By Steven Beacom

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott says owner Ali Pour is happy with the progress being made at the club but is demanding even more and wants The Oval outfit to become bigger and better.

On the pitch, the Glens are starting to look a force again. They are fifth in the table and in the title mix after a highly-impressive eight-match unbeaten run in the league that has taken them within five points of leaders Linfield.

Off the pitch, there is also positive news with McDermott outlining that the club will be debt free next month.

Perhaps that's the biggest result of all this season given that for most of the last decade Glentoran fans have been fearing for the club's future due to financial problems. At one point, debts were as high as £1.7m and in 2010 the Glens faced a winding up petition by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over an unpaid tax bill.

A wealthy benefactor stepped in to rescue the club then but creditors still had to be paid.

In recent times, the Glens have been lambasted from all directions, including their own supporters. Even earlier this year when club legends Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman left their managerial and coaching positions with McDermott and Paul Millar assuming those roles, and being part of Pour's takeover consortium, serious questions were being asked.

So far they have come up with positive answers and deserve praise for that. McDermott won't be resting on his laurels, though. He states that successful Welsh-Iranian businessman Pour insists the club continues to push forward at pace.

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Pointing way: Glentoran owner Ali Pour
Pointing way: Glentoran owner Ali Pour

"Ali is happy with the progress but he's demanding," explained McDermott, previously a coach for Iran under Carlos Queiroz.

"We lost to Cliftonville a couple of weeks ago (in the County Antrim Shield) and a question mark, question mark message came through! That's what you expect. These are powerful business people running multiple companies and this is another one.

"People have joked with me and Windy (Millar) about being on the board, saying, 'Are you going to sack yourself?' but I know I have to get results for him. It's not a case of just sitting back and enjoying yourself.

"To go from growing up in an estate in Swansea to what Ali is doing now, it takes you to be a driven, competitive person. He demands that of us.

"We keep him informed every week. He's not in this to make a load of money but he's not in it to lose money either. It's a project that is really interesting for him because it's a side project to his businesses and he likes the way it is going but he wants it to be bigger and better."

McDermott appreciates that to do that they can't rely only on Pour's millions. The club has to make money too. The best way for Irish League clubs nowadays is to qualify for Europe.

A target has been set for a side who last won silverware in 2015.

"There's still some financial things to sort with the former charge holder. That will all be taken care of by January so as of then there will be no charges on The Oval. The club will own the ground completely. We are paying our bills, we don't owe anything. We have no tax liabilities other than what comes up every month and those are being paid," said McDermott.

"The club is moving in the right direction but of course it has to be sustainable and sustainability only comes with an increase in your revenues.

"There are multiple ways to do that with ticket sales which will only ever get to a point in this league, your commercial revenue with bars and advertising which is increasing and then the other is qualifying for Europe. The reality is we have to eventually get in whether it be this year or next year. By year three we have to be getting there."

After too many false dawns about rebuilding The Oval, there remains an ambition to modernise the famous old ground which would be another sign that Glentoran mean business.

McDermott said: "We always go back to the stadium plans and what's coming. The feedback we are getting from multiple areas is that what we are doing is positive and that includes other clubs like Crusaders who are moving forward as if we're coming which is a good sign.

Omid Djalili
Omid Djalili

"There's people thinking now that we are moving in the right direction and need to be ready. That could be a game changer for the Irish League and our football club."

All involved are buying into the 'Time to Climb' motto including some surprising figures, such as Iranian comedian and actor Omid Djalili who recently tweeted about their progress.

McDermott said: "I've never met Omid but know him through contacts. He was the contact for a player we had on trial recently that didn't work out. He also put out a post and it's nice to see people like that are paying attention. We want Glentoran to be noticed for doing good work and we are determined to keep moving forward."

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