Bearing in mind the nature of our part-time league we are spared the Gekko corporate vultures that loom in on clubs across the water. That may be a good or a bad thing in your mind. At the moment on the local scene, we have the nearest we might come to Chelsea 2003 or Manchester City 2008. This would be in the shape of Purple Bricks’ owner and Larne fan Kenny Archer’s decision to financially fire the club back in amongst the leading tier of clubs. Perhaps the new strip will be in purple but I jest and hope not.
There are quite a few about the local football scene a little uncomfortable at this ‘new money’ coming into the club. This particular venture is slightly different to other scenarios where benefactors have helped bail clubs out. Most notable in this sphere would be Coleraine and more recently Glentoran. The difference here being that these clubs were about to go under and this was kiss of life stuff. That is not the perception with Larne which ruffles a few feathers. I suppose the question here is if it was your own club would it be ok and that is a discussion you must have with yourself.
My own feeling about it all is that it unsettles other fans because nobody is quite sure where it all might end. It is not a sponsorship along the lines of ET, Lagan Valley or even Harry Corry. Also, it has been quite aggressive insofar as acquiring players such as McDaid, Donnelly and Stewart from under some big clubs’ noses and the sound of nebular joints moving was audible across the province. This certainty of action has made many nervous as it has happened so very quickly. Some would have preferred the money to go into the ground as is happening now so that they could mentally prepare themselves for the new wave emanating from East Antrim.
Yes, the ground has now been purchased from the council and a new pitch and stadium could well be the envy of many. It’s not as ‘Inversoft’ as many would like it to be. Within the next two seasons, it is expected that both Larne and/or Portadown will be in the top flight. It is at this point that I think fans should stop hiding behind their club colours and look at it as a general local football fan. Firstly, Kenny Archer whilst not presently resided seems to be to have his heart in the right place. He wants his local team to do well and if he is in a position to enable that he will. Famous last words but in the face of it, he doesn’t seem to be in it for himself. I doubt he will be the Irish League’s Mike Ashley.
Indeed it would seem that he is hoping the town, which in general and social terms tends to get some local abuse can regenerate on the back of the football club. As a major believer of football clubs being at the heart of local civic pride, this appeals to me. Your town, city or district doesn’t have FC on point duty for nothing. Any honest to goodness or decent money coming into the game here really should be welcomed. Viewing all this from a distance many folk closer to it do seem to have good vibes about it all.
If people feel this money might skew the league I would argue that European money is more likely to do that. A counter there is that the clubs who get that have properly earned that and that is fair enough. Skew the league it might, but like many things before it is up to everyone to deal with it. The league had to deal with the Troubles which was a huge and negative thing. European money is a positive issue.
Last season it was clearly evident that the townsfolk had joined up with Prince Kenny and his revolution. Eight hundred odd I believe appeared at the Cup Quarter-Final at Ballymena and more at the semi. There will be many at Inver Park next season believing it will be their last in the second tier. Whether it affects your club or not we should all say good luck to them. The bar is being raised and it could raise everyone else along with it. The Harbour Rats are coming in off the wharf.