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Takeover saved Glentoran from going bust, says boss McDermott


Mick McDermott

Mick McDermott

�INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Mick McDermott

Glentoran would have disappeared this year if a consortium led by British-Iranian businessman Ali Pour had not taken over the club, according to manager Mick McDermott.

The Glens boss, who was appointed manager as part of the takeover, believes the east Belfast institution could have drowned in a sea of debt.

On Tuesday, Glentoran proudly announced they were debt free, a remarkable survival story less than two years after a creditor seized control of the Oval and locked the gates of the stadium.

Debts close to £2m have now been cleared, allowing the club to focus on a league and Irish Cup double this season while investing in facilities and the squad.

McDermott said: "Glentoran were doing badly and the gates were locked in September 2018.

"The club would have closed its doors this year and that's the truth. It's important the fans know that.

"This time the threat of closure was very real. Majority shareholders knew that because of the debts and bills coming in. In 2020 it would have been goodnight.

"I would say honestly that there was a high possibility Glentoran would not have seen out this season."

McDermott, who celebrated his 46th birthday yesterday, added: “Debts were crippling the club, interest rates were paid to a final creditor, a so-called saviour of the club but he was charging interest every year, it wasn’t just free money. It was a business deal for them. Eventually the club would have to say ‘where do we go?’

“At some point debt can’t be managed and someone has to pay. An American company put locks on the gates and they don’t care. They wanted their money and gave the club 30 days.

“Now the debts have gone and there are no charges left. The land and stadium belong to the club.”

Glentoran stated this week: “The repayment of the final debt has been accomplished through the collaboration and generous contributions of both our new investor, Mr Ali Pour, and the Directors of GFC1882 through generous contributions from Glentoran supporters’ clubs and individual supporters and through personal loans by directors.”

Now this financial storm has passed for the Glens and a new Government is up and running at Stormont, there is fresh hope that the east Belfast giants can even enjoy a prosperous future.

The Oval has been neglected for too long but it is hoped redevelopment plans can swing into action once funding is eventually released for Irish League clubs.

That may not happen anytime soon but at least the rainbow which has a pot of gold at the end of it can be seen on the horizon.

McDermott, who has worked in America, Abu Dhabi, Iran and Dubai, firmly believes that improved facilities will enhance the football product and attract more fans.

“We want clubs to benefit from fresh funding from Government as we have Third World facilities,” he added. “Countries around Europe are putting us to shame. Look at what happened at Warrenpoint. Would you take your wife and kids to an environment like that where fans can get over a fence and enter the pitch.

“Facilities must improve to attract more families.”

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