Glentoran chairman Stephen Henderson has deemed today a monumental day in the history of the club with a declaration that they are now debt-free.
In December, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Glentoran were set to clear all their debts early in 2020, and this has now been confirmed by the east Belfast outfit.
With the Glens top of the league, it is another boost to fans who had feared for the club’s future over the past decade when at one point debts totalled £1.7m.
Earlier this year, Welsh/Iranian businessman Ali Pour led a consortium, including manager Mick McDermott and his assistant boss Paul Millar, to take over the Glens and since then there has been significant investment on and off the pitch, which has helped transform the side into title contenders and put the club on a solid financial footing.
A statement read: “The Board of Directors of the Glentoran Recreation Company is delighted to announce that effective from Friday 31st January 2020, the club has discharged all obligations to the final historic creditor, thus rendering Glentoran effectively debt free.
“This is a remarkable turnaround for the club which at its worst had a debt burden close to £2m. In September 2018 the gates of The Oval were locked at the behest of another historic creditor and the team was struggling, with a debt still over £1m.
“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 personal loans by directors.”
Chairman Henderson was keen to pay tribute to those who brought the club back from the brink.
“Today is a monumental day in the history of Glentoran FC," he said in an emotional statement. "Today we stand on our own two feet in the external debt-free daylight, having inch by inch clawed our way out of the abyss over the last decade, a debt that crippled the club and threatened our very existence.
“We are humbled by the pulling together of the true Glentoran family and our investor to see us settle our debt.
"To have lived through winding up orders that gave the club less than 24 hours of life left, the negative publicity of not paying wages and the sadness of seeing the gates to our home locked. Having lived through and been responsible for the necessary cuts that had to be implemented to save the club, the decline in our on-field performances and the criticism that inevitably followed, today is landmark day.
"I pay tribute to the small group of people who refused to give up on Glentoran, who refused to let it die. They know who they are, but thank you simply doesn’t seem enough.
"Was the pain, the heartache, the ridicule, the criticism worth it? Look around the club today and look at the faces of the new generation of fans coming through those gates on the path trodden by their forefathers. Yes, it was worth it. All of it."
With the Glens currently top of the Premiership table, investor Ali Pour appealed for supporters to get behind the club in their drive for trophies.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of Glentoran’s Climb back to the top," he said. "The passion I’ve seen amongst the players and all the supporters has been truly inspiring! I’ve worked very closely with the management and the board and have committed myself to ensure that the club is financially stable in order to continue our journey.
"I ask all the Glentoran family to give us your full support and efforts; together we can achieve success.”