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No houses or offices on Carlisle Grounds

“We are not planning to build houses or offices on the Carlisle Grounds.”

That’s the claim of Bray Wanderers Chairman Denis O’Connor following recent reports and rumours that the owners of the club are eyeing up the ground for development. “What happens to the Carlisle Ground is a matter for Wicklow County Council, its elected councillors and the people of the county,” Mr O’Connor told the Wicklow Voice. “These rumours are obviously an attempt to cast the club and all the hard work which is going on around it in a bad light at the moment.”

Several recent media articles have appeared referencing off-the-field activity at the club, including an advertisement in The Phoenix Magazine under the headline ‘The Carlisle Tradition’. It attempts, bizarrely, to¬†link by suggestion events from 1780 and the original Earls of Carlisle, former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and the McCracken Tribunal, with the present day club. The advertisement was placed by a company called the Irish Commercial Tenants Association Ltd which according to company records was dissolved on January 29, 2014 and listed John Corcoran and Morya Benville of Glenageary as directors.

Grounds must be used for football

The club have a 35-year lease for the Carlisle Grounds from Wicklow County Council which was signed in 2001. 

“We are currently paying a peppercorn rent but our lease explicitly says the ground must be used for football purposes only,” Mr O’Connor adds. “We are putting money into the club by providing simple things like new tarmac, new walls and improving the facilities overall – never mind adding to the playing squad, which is starting to pay off on the pitch. However, every time we try to do something for the good of the club or try to bring the club into the community, we are accused of having ulterior motives.”

When pressed on the future plans of Bray Wanderers and the possibility of the club moving from its home in the Carlisle Grounds, Mr O’Connor said: “”We have a five-year strategic plan for Bray Wanderers that involves creating a centre of excellence that will benefit clubs and possibly other sports bodies throughout County Wicklow. That may well involve moving from our current home to a state-of-the-art facility including training pitches on the outskirts of the town as the Carlisle Grounds are not fit for purpose. Redevelopments like this are planned or have happened in other places such as Drogheda, Dalymount and Glanmire in Cork amongst others.

“If the people of Bray and Wicklow want something similar rather than a club that is always struggling then we are going to have to work together. We actively seek volunteers to help us achieve this objective.” When asked about what would happen then with the Carlisle Grounds, he said, “I don’t know the answer. It belongs to the community and it’s up to the officials to decide.” Bray Wanderers sit in ninth place in the SSE Airtricity Premier League on 30 points, seven above the relegation zone with seven games left to play. They face Sligo Rovers on Saturday at 7.30pm in the Carlisle Grounds.

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