Sligo Rovers are investing the money from the sale of local youngsters Johnny Kenny and John Mahon into completing their ‘master plan’ to take their facilities to the next level.
Club chairman Tommy Higgins has briefed delegates at the club’s AGM on how a significant portion of funds from the Scottish departures of Kenny and Mahon will pay for the detailed planning stage of the project with architects responsible for make a submission to Sligo County Council.
The Bit’O’Reds have a plan to redevelop The Showgrounds into a 6,000 seat stadium and their vision also includes sourcing another venue for their academy’s needs.
Academy graduate Kenny was sold to Celtic for an initial fee of €150,000 with other clauses factored into the deal and Mahon – another local talent – went to St Johnstone for a fee that is in the same stage.
The Rovers are now confident they can move forward to align their €17million stadium project with the plans of other League of Ireland clubs seeking support for development projects. large-scale infrastructure.
Higgins says the fan-owned club needs to use its funds wisely and gain support in political circles so it can compete with other LOI clubs that have individual benefactors.
“A lot has changed in these 10 years with big money coming into the game. In the past season three of the 10 Premier clubs have had the backing of billionaires and a few more have considerable outside financial support,” Higgins said.
“Sligo Rovers is a fan-owned, community club. I love this model and it’s obvious the fans love the model too as they continue to be loyal supporters of the club year after year.
“However, this competing financial muscle is proving to be a challenge and we need to focus on the future.
“The master plan can be the solution. It is an ambitious plan, but Sligo Rovers are an ambitious club and we owe it to our supporters to provide the club with a platform for the next 50+ years.
“We are committing substantial funds in the planning and design phase to move this plan forward. Over the last decade we have invested in our own stadium and that will be another big expense.
“We need to bring in additional revenue in order to compete with other clubs but also grow our own. The Masterplan and a revamped Showgrounds are the way forward.
“We had universal support for the plan from our supporters, the wider community, the FAI, Sligo County Council and at political level. We are hopeful and confident that we can carry out these plans. »
The truckers have already commissioned Rhatigan Architects to draw up detailed plans.
Higgins met Taoiseach Micheál Martin while Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin, visited the club last year to be briefed on plans and expansion to add a senior women’s team to their operations.