Sunday 26 February 2017

Verdict in stadium row casts doubts over Bohs' future

Daniel McDonnell, Grainne Cunningham and Tim Healy

THE future of League of Ireland champions Bohemians is shrouded in doubt after it lost a High Court case relating to the sale and redevelopment of part of its lands at Dalymount Park.

Mr Justice John Edwards ruled that Bohemians hold a section of the stadium in trust for Albion Properties, the owners of the adjoining Phibsboro Shopping Centre.

The football club had been in negotiations with Albion for redevelopment works over several years.

The decision will have implications for a €67m agreement which Bohemians has with another developer, Danninger Ltd, led by Liam Carroll, about the proposed sell-off of the stadium in Phibsboro, Dublin, and its relocation to a site in Harristown near Dublin Airport.

Bohemians, runaway winners of this year's League of Ireland, have received advance payments from Carroll totalling €2m over the past couple of seasons as part of the deal signed to transfer the entirety of the land at Dalymount over to Danninger.

Now, the legal standing of that deal has been brought into question after the ruling that part of the stadium is owned by Albion. Gerry Conway, secretary of Bohemians, has confirmed that the deal with Carroll may need amendment.

But sources close to the Dublin club fear that the developer could now seek to declare the entire arrangement null and void, and argue that he is entitled to get the advance money back, thus leaving Bohs in serious debt.

The judge said he will hear submissions on a later date from counsel for both Bohemians and Albion on how the tract of land in question at Dalymount is to be transferred and any other matters arising from his decision.


The case centred on whether there was ever an agreement between Bohemians and developer Paschal Conroy's companies, Albion Properties Ltd and Albion Enterprise Ltd, over the potential sale of a section of Dalymount -- which adjoins the Phibsboro Shopping Centre and which Albion wanted to redevelop for €200m.

The land in question is a section of ground behind the goal at the Tramway end and was to be exchanged partly for cash and partly in return for Albion building corporate boxes for Bohs.

Bohemians claimed, in their proceedings, that any agreement to sell part of their lands never moved beyond pre-contractual negotiations and there was no concluded agreement.

In its counter-claim, Albion said the agreement was concluded in February 2003 and a number of variations of that agreement were also concluded.

During the course of these negotiations, the court heard Albion made payments totalling €1.05m to Bohemians at times when the club was in financial difficulties.

The judge will hear submissions at a later date on how the land is to be transferred and any other matters arising from his decision.

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