Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings could get the chance to buy Cork City
Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings is set to be given the option to buy League of Ireland strugglers Cork City.
It all stems from when the Lilywhites did a deal with Cork in February to buy out the sell-on clauses for Alan Browne and Sean Maguire.
The money paid for those clauses helped relieve some of the financial pressure on the Rebels and allowed them to get a licence to play in this season’s League of Ireland.
When striking the deal over the sell-on clauses, the subject of Hemmings buying Cork was raised. The plan was for an exclusive option to be put in place for him to buy the club at some point in the future if he so wished.
That got delayed by the outbreak of Covid-19 but is now back in the offing.
Cork have been fan-owned since 2010 and members of the supporters’ trust will have a general meeting on October 28 about Hemmings getting the option to buy.
The only motion to be discussed and voted on at the meeting will be about passing the option to Grovemoor Ltd which is a company owned by Hemmings. That motion is likely to be passed, with it needing 50% plus one vote.
If the motion is indeed passed, it would be an option for Hemmings to buy, not a cast-iron guarantee that he would do.
The cost would be just one euro, with his company assuming the club’s current debts.
Hemmings has strong links to Cork, where he has horseracing interests and owns a holiday camp in the area.
So if he got the option to buy, it would seem likely that he would take it up at some stage.
In recent years North End have been frequent visitors to the region during pre-season, training at the Fota Island complex.
That annual visit over the Irish Sea did not happen this summer due to the shortened pre-season and Covid risks.
There would be no conflict of interest with his ownership of PNE should Hemmings opt to buy Cork.
People can own clubs in different countries and it is fairly common.
Cork are currently bottom of the League of Ireland Premier Division with five games remaining.
They were champions as recently as 2017, the summer when PNE bought Maguire and Kevin O’Connor from them.
Maguire at that time had scored a bagful of goals both domestically and in the Europa League.
Left-back O’Connor, who never properly settled at North End, is now back playing for Cork. His PNE contract ended in the summer, having been loaned out to three clubs.
Midfielder Browne came to North End from Cork in January 2014, having played in their Under-19s side.