Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran can become an Irish League force again thanks to cash boost, say club legends


Fresh start: Gary Smyth
Fresh start: Gary Smyth

By Graham Luney

Glentoran's dramatically improved financial results could help catapult the club back among the big hitters of local football, according to club legends Jim Cleary and Mark Glendinning.

The former Oval heroes have warmly welcomed news the club's debt has been slashed from £1.7m to just over £100,000.

Two pieces of land at their Oval ground have been sold, including one to the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, and the money raised will clear most of the club's debts.

Financial mismanagement almost sunk the Glens and a fresh demand from a vulture fund called Promontoria, a cover for Cerberus debt management group, caused fresh panic last year.

But the club is now in talks with a millionaire considering a possible investment and supporters will be relieved the long-term financial stability of the club appears assured.

Cleary, who made 413 appearances for the Glens and helped the club win two league titles as well as five Irish Cups in the 1980s, said: "As a Glentoran supporter I'm delighted to see there is light at the end of the tunnel because it's obvious the debt has been holding the club back for a number of years.

"I wasn't aware of all their debts but if they can be cleared up it's brilliant news and the club can have a prosperous future.

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"Gary (Smyth) and Ronnie (McFall) beforehand have been restricted in terms of spending and while I'm not expecting a quick fix we can be more confident and look forward with more optimism.

"The guys from my era will tell you the stadium hasn't changed much since we stopped playing. That's sad from the infrastructure point of view and money is not filtering down from Government.

"That money would help all the clubs but hopefully this news will give the management team, players and supporters a boost."

Glentoran legend Jim Cleary

Glendinning, who won an Irish Cup in 2004 and league title at the Glens in 2005, added: "People haven't realised the financial state Glentoran have been in and they can be quick to criticise so it's right to recognise the hard work of those helping to stabilise the club and get it back on track.

"It's not an easy task and the fans demand success at the same time. To bring the debt levels down so low is a great achievement and hopefully Smicker (Gary Smyth) and Leeper (Paul Leeman) can turn things around.

"The team needs investment and Gary needs to bring in players who can get the club back where it belongs. It can only be positive for the club and the Irish League and you need a strong Glens team to bring the crowds to Irish League games, you need a strong Big Two.

"The Irish League attendances are improving but Linfield and Glentoran bring the big crowds.

"I know what the club means to both those guys. It's not a job you can walk away from or switch off and both Paul and Smicker should be supported. The players have an important role to play, they should not need to be motivated. Clubs like Linfield are successful because the players are winners and they have to be.

"I think, without a shadow of a doubt, Leeper and Smicker will bring the club forward."

The Glens resume their Danske Bank Premiership campaign at Newry City tonight (7.45pm).

"Going to Newry will be really tough. They are definitely a better team at home," says Smyth.

"But for us it is a winnable match in hand. It's up to us to cement seventh and if anything happens higher up the table so be it."

• NORTHERN Ireland will play for Home Nations pride against Wales in tomorrow's final Futsal World Cup qualifier after a 13-3 defeat to Moldova ended their hopes of making it through to the next stage.

In an early goal rush Scott Gunn got Northern Ireland back into the game when he made it 2-1 after five minutes, but the clinical Moldovans - ranked 26th in the world - were comfortably 7-1 in front at half time.

Despite three Moldovan players completing hat-tricks in the second half Northern Ireland will be encouraged by the fact that they kept going to the end, with Conor Millar scoring twice in the final 11 minutes, with his second coming just before the final whistle.

Newry City vs Glentoran

Danske Bank Premiership

Newry Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.45pm

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