Ali Shams Pour hails rival's 'benchmark' as he looks to emulate success at Oval

Photo shows Glentoran owner Ali Pour (right)
-Credit: (Image: INPHO/Brian Little)


Glentoran owner Ali Shams Pour has hailed the impact of Kenny Bruce in the Irish League, declaring his football rival's transformation of Larne as the 'benchmark' for others to follow.

Bruce's investment has reaped considerable reward over the past five years, including back-to-back Premiership titles and the redevelopment of Inver Park.

The former Purplebricks co-founder's tenure at Larne is of similar length to Pour's time in East Belfast, but Glentoran's fortunes on and off the pitch couldn't be any more contrasting.

Read more: Michael Conlan fears Irish boxer risks losing fans after controversial switch

Read more: Queen's University GAA students embark on tour of United States

The Glens have claimed just one trophy since Pour's arrival in 2019 - the Irish Cup in 2020 - while their dilapidated Oval stadium is in dire need of redevelopment.

They are out of debt, however, with Pour's reported £3m investment to date helping drag the club out of the depth's of financial despair. But questions remain over the lack of progress on the pitch.

Pour has welcomed the £36.2m investment from Stormont to improve facilities in Northern Ireland football, funding that was first pledged in 2011. He says more support is needed, but believes clubs can also attract external investment, like Larne have done under Bruce's tenure.

He told Belfast Live: "Four years ago I was hoping that with my investment, and the success of Glentoran, that other investors would emulate what I have done, but with other clubs. We have seen investment at Coleraine coming in which is great.

"That should be the way forward. And the government needs to keep supporting football here.

"It is the same all over the world, supporting football clubs. But it is good to see more private money coming in. It is good for the whole league.

"Once they see results at Glentoran, then it will be easier to persuade others to come in. Kenny (Bruce) is doing a great job. He has set the benchmark with Larne.

"He is raising money quite easily from external funders, and a big part of that is down to their success. So that is the template, but I believe Glentoran is on the right track."

Photo shows Larne owner Kenny Bruce
Larne owner Kenny Bruce -Credit:INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Pour admits the past five years have been a "rollercoaster" for him as owner. And he says missing out on Europe this season was a "blow".

He added: "It has been a rollercoaster. That is the nature of the game, right? Look at other clubs.

"Look at Larne's journey over the last few years. Everything has changed for them. That's the name of the game.

"You need to have a good team in place, and infrastructure. We have done all the right things, and we have been unlucky at times.

"We have had a few good results, but we lacked consistency. So it was a tough year.

"Missing out on Europe is a blow. I am still investing in the club and I am still committed. My job is to make sure this club is sustainable moving forwards, in case I get hit by a bus tomorrow.

"We are here as custodians. This really isn't my club. In a 100 years time I won't be here but Glentoran will, so we have to make sure the club is self sufficient and the income generated covers the costs. And anytime we need money, I am there to top things up.

"But we are moving in the right direction for sure. I think next season should be good, and financially we should be secure."

Sign up to our free sports newsletter to get the latest headlines to your inbox