Belfast Telegraph

Portadown to team up with Galatasaray

By Stuart McKinley

Go out of business or become possibly the most financially secure club on the island of Ireland.



That’s the choice that those who hold Portadown Football Club close to their hearts will face at probably the most crucial meeting in the club’s 87-year history this evening.

Shareholders will gather at an EGM where they will be asked to support the election of Yalcin Cubuk as the new chairman of the club in succession to Roy McMahon, who resigned six weeks ago.

There were fears among fans that the financial security of the club could be under threat immediately after McMahon stepped down. When you consider that much of the investment in the two new stands at Shamrock Park was down to him that’s not a surprise.

Now, however, Turkish-born Cubuk, who has been running a successful business in Portadown for the last 20 years, has plans to make the future of the club — which has won four league titles in the last 21 years after previously failing to claim a major trophy — even brighter than the past.

The major resource he will try to bring in is finance, but he is also trying to establish a relationship with the biggest club in his homeland, Galatasaray, which could see the Ports avail of the services of some of Turkey’s brightest young talent.

If Cubuk can convince his fellow shareholders that the link with Galatasaray is the right way for the club to go and that he can guarantee substantial investment then it’s a no-brainer.

Fans want to see further improvements to the ground and the playing squad; a desire which Cubuk shares.

And while he isn’t expected to gather universal support, with only one proposal on the table surely even the biggest doubters will find it hard to place their faith elsewhere.

If, however, he and his plans don’t win the necessary backing, then the future of Portadown Football Club could be a short one.

The signs that money isn’t as freely available at Shamrock Park as it has been in previous years are there for all to see.

Manager Ronnie McFall — who is related to Cubuk through marriage — is usually one of the busiest managers in the Irish League during the summer, scouring Northern Ireland, the Republic as well as England and Scotland for players.

Not this time though. Indeed McFall has been conspicuous by his absence in the goings on during the summer transfer window, during which only former Linfield winger Jamie Tomelty has been signed.

The resignation of McMahon and vice-chairman David Jameson back in June came just a few weeks after another director, Sam Carey, left the club, citing family reasons for his decision.

Now only four directors remain. Cubuk, McFall — who as a shareholder was invited onto the board by McMahon — Bobby Jameson and Cyril Connolly. Although Connolly is understood to have taken more of a backseat despite being in possession of one of the larger shareholdings.

They may not all remain as board members after tonight, but it’s Cubuk’s position and what he hopes to bring to the club that is most crucial.

Cubuk is understood to have ambitious plans to make the Shamrock Park club the best in Ireland and the link-up — effectively making Portadown a nursery club to Galatasaray — is just the start. It is understood that major investment in the club is close to being secured.

While the new — and much needed financial backing — won’t be to anything like the same extent that the likes of Manchester City have availed of in recent years, there are suggestions that a portion of the new cash the Ports may receive will come from the Middle East as well as sources in Turkey and possibly the United States.

Redeveloping the remaining parts of the stadium — the old Main Stand at Shamrock Park was condemned within the last 12 months — is high on Cubuk’s list of priorities.

Replacing that with a new stand, which would increase the ground capacity to over 4,000 is on the cards, with a three-year time scale.

And while Linfield have dabbled with full-time football before having to abandon those ambitions, there is a hope that a new regime at Portadown, with new rich investors and Cubuk’s vision, will bring about a full-time squad within five years.

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