Finn Harps Chairman, Joey O’Leary, has appealed for supporters to get involved in the day to day running of the club and describes the future for the club as “pretty bleak” if more people aren’t willing to come on board to help.
O’Leary is one of only five members on the current board and is actively seeking to bring on two new members – a Finance Officer and an Operations/Facilities Officer.
He has also not ruled out the possibility of changing the clubs rules so as to allow the number of board members to increase – at the moment, as a result of the recommendations of the Review Committee last November, there are only seven seats available on the Board of Directors.
Harps held a Special General Meeting in Stranorlar on Sunday in which the Shareholders ratified changes to the clubs constitution, but the main item on the agenda was to discuss an emergency plan to address the clubs increasingly difficult financial situation.
Shareholders were informed that projected income for the first four months since the board was elected up to the end of March was €177,000, yet only €127,000 had been raised. The board feel that they need in the region of €300,000 between now and the end of the year just to see the season through and in the current climate that will be difficult to achieve.
“Despite major cuts to both on and off field expenditure, the economic climate combined with a lack of volunteers means the club needs urgent backing from the North West Public,” said O’Leary.
“I am painfully aware that Finn Harps in financial trouble is not a new story. When I took the position as Chairman in November I felt it was very important to show the public that the club is on its way to becoming a progressive organisation. The feedback to our increasing level of community work with schools and local agencies such as the Road Safety Authority has been very positive.
The ‘Revive and Thrive campaign’ competitions were great fun for everybody involved and we have a fresh new approach to our Marketing. Club volunteers have put in huge work to try and get the club on a firm footing but like all organisations the recession is having a devastating effect on our revenue streams.
“Attracting volunteers who can give us their time to help out is another major challenge for us. I feel very proud of our small army of volunteers. They are an absolute credit to themselves and the Club. Increasing regulation/licensing requirements and fundraising challenges now means that you need a very large team of people to run a senior club – and again I would appeal to people to come forward and they will be made feel very welcome.
“The B&S Supporters Club showed recently what can be done when people put in the effort to make something work. They where involved in a hugely successful ‘Strictly Club Dancing’ event along with the local GAA & Tennis Clubs and with the money raised going towards our transport costs for the season, it means that we have one less bill for the club have to worry about.”
The Harps Chairman believes that if the current predicament can be overcome Finn Harps will become a major asset to the County.
“We expect work to have begun on the new Stadium this year and it’s frustrating that we are in this predicament while that dream is so close to becoming a reality. We are talking about a project that I believe can make Finn Harps a major force in Irish Football.”
O’Leary continued: “The New Board inherited a large debt and we are committed to honouring our creditors. It is vital that that we can come up with a fundraising formula that brings in revenue as quickly as possible. The current and future Boards have then to continue to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that senior football is a guaranteed and permanent fixture in sporting life in this county. At the moment we are planning what we think is the best way forward and we hope to make further announcements in the next couple of weeks.”
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Harps are at home on each of the following three Friday nights, why not come along and support the club by coming to the games.
- Join the Harps fundraising Committee.
- Join the 500 Club. It costs just €6.35 per week and there are is an annual prize fund of €30,000.
- Buy a Harps lotto. It costs just €2 and you can enter online at www.finnharps.com or by buying from anyone involved with the club.
- Help out on match nights by becoming a steward, operating the turnstiles or manning a ticket booth.
If anyone wishes to get involved with the Fundraising Committee, contact Sean Quinn on 074 9131389. For Commercial Activities, contact Aidan Campbell on 087 2886884 and for Match night Operations, contact John Campbell on 085 1594965 or the Finn Park office at 074 9130070.