Cork City are nearing a takeover after their board of management provisionally accepted an offer from Dublin businessman Dermot Usher to buy 100% of the club.
Usher led the Irish bathroom brand SONAS Bathrooms over a 30-year period as a family business, originally founded by his father John, and has previously attempted to be part of takeovers at Dundalk and Bray Wanderers.
Dermot Usher sold the business, which had projected sales of €45m in 2021, last year and remains a non-executive director.
City, currently owned by their member group, Friends of the Rebel Army Society, have been seeking investment or a takeover since the collapse of the agreement with the late Trevor Hemmings.
He had helped to rescue the club after a period of financial turmoil.
The Rebels have been promoted to the SSE Airtricity League top flight next season after winning the 2022 First Division.
In a statement, their current board said it had accepted the proposal for a complete takeover, which will now go to a vote by members on 4 December.
The board said it will be exclusively engaging with Usher and not consider any other bids.
It claimed it can lead to an "exciting next chapter in the history of Cork City FC".
Under the new ownership, Cork would seek European qualification in the coming seasons.
As it stands, their current budget would be unlikely to challenge for the top-four places as they return to the top flight.
Usher has also promised to hire two permanent members of staff in marketing and academy roles, as well as regular engagement with FORAS members on his work at the club.
FORAS will be left with an undisclosed sum of money to enable the trust to continue operating in its original capacity as a guardian for Cork City FC.
Usher has been on the lookout for an opportunity to take ownership in Irish football since selling his business and sees Cork as a major chance for growth, saying: "I have been passionate about sport all my life and I'm an avid fan of the League of Ireland.
"Since I sold my business in 2021, I have been looking to contribute more to football in this country and having spoken to the board of management and others around the league, Cork City FC is such an exciting opportunity for everyone involved. FORAS under fan ownership have done the club proud over the past 12 years.
"I just hope they will now give me the chance to bring the club to the next level. I will always aim to overdeliver and will look to grow every area of the club including the academy and women's teams, and also working with the community.
"I understand how difficult times have been under different owners in the past, but I promise I will do everything possible to make your football club successful and competing at the right end of the League of Ireland. I have committed the financial support to make this happen.
"This club deserves to be competing for trophies and that is exactly what I want to achieve. I look forward to meeting everyone and discussing my plans over the coming weeks."
City chairman Declan Carey said the board will fully back Usher's proposal: "The board will be strongly advocating for a sale and we will be communicating our reasoning in full over the coming weeks and on the night of the special general meeting.
"We've met with Dermot and heard what he has to say. He is passionate about the League of Ireland but critically has the business knowledge, experience, and personal wealth to back up his ambitions for our football club.
"This is the right decision for the club and its passionate supporters to compete and grow in a sustainable way in an ever improving and competitive league."
Club treasurer Conor Hallahan admitted the cost of running the club through its members is proving difficult and leading the club down this route: "Anyone who has attended our AGMs in recent years will know the attention to detail this board has paid to the club's finances and we have been rigorous in making tough decisions to improve our financial position.
"However, even with the changes we have made, the club is becoming more and more difficult to manage from a financial perspective.
"Costs have increased across the club and we expect further increases in the coming years. External investment is now required to allow the club to grow in a sustainable manner.
"We have analysed Dermot's plan and conducted our due diligence. His plans are prudent and align with our vision for the club. They will enable us to compete at the right end of the League of Ireland, whilst also continuing to support our player development policies. We owe it to ourselves to back the sale and secure the funding for the next chapter of our club's history."
The Cork club have a history of financial difficulties, leading to several name changes and ownership models over decades of competing in the League of Ireland, most recently in 2010 and 2019.
They are now set to return to private ownership once more in a league which has increasing activity from wealthy investors.
The Dermot Desmond-backed Shamrock Rovers are three in-a-row league champions, while Derry City have benefitted from their billionaire chairman Philip O’Doherty and won the FAI Cup last Sunday.