Purplebricks co-founder Kenny Bruce has put his online estate agency on every TV screen, and apparently now wants to do the same with his hometown football club Larne FC.
In a recent report Bruce said: “We will do whatever it takes financially to make sure this club has the best facilities possible, gets promoted and is challenging for honours in the (NIFL) Premier League.”
And he added, optimistically: “I would like Larne to have the Champions League music played at Inver Park one day.”
Bruce fulfilled every schoolboy’s dream by taking over Larne FC back in autumn 2017, and already seems to have set about putting the club on the road towards pitching for European football’s most glittering prize.
Bruce’s reported £500,000 investment in Larne FC has already seen dramatic changes at the club. Not too long ago the club seemed rooted to the bottom of the table. This season they are unbeaten and four points clear at the top of the Championship. Home match attendances have soared from around 50 to around 1,000.
A new stand and other ground improvements are under development at Inver Park to join a 4G artificial pitch allowing the club to play and train whatever the Irish weather throws at it – something pretty much unknown at this level of football.
The club now boasts a number of Irish Premiership title winners in its squad.
Bruce explained: “I’m a lifelong fan and I think a football club in a town like Larne has a real opportunity to inspire and bring the generations along.
“I learnt an awful lot growing up in this town, it has great people and they have been fantastic since we came into the club.”
Larne FC was founded in 1889. From 1972 until 2008, the club enjoyed senior status, but reverted to intermediate status when it failed to gain a place in the new IFA Premiership. The club holds the honour of appearing in five finals of the Irish Cup and two finals of the Irish League Cup winning just one trophy. They have been runners-up of the Irish Cup on five occasions and runners-up of the Irish League Cup twice.
The sceptical shouldn’t be too dismissive about Bruce’s ambitions, however. Purplebricks is now pretty much a household name, all from a standing start in 2012. Kenny and Michael Bruce and family reached number 62 in this year’s Irish Rich List, with personal wealth of £190m.
Neither need playing in the Champions League mean Larne have to beat Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City to get there. Under the current system, NIFL Premiership winners enter the first qualifying round of the Champions League, playing in the Champions route.
As something of a consolation – although the walk-on music at Inver Park wouldn’t be quite so stirring – the Irish Cup winners, the Irish League runners-up and the winners of the European play-offs enter the first qualifying round of the Europa League.