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Council strikes €3.4m deal to buy Dalymount Park

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Ariel view of Dalymount Park. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.

Ariel view of Dalymount Park. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.

Ariel view of Dalymount Park. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE.

Dublin City Council has agreed to buy Dalymount Park, the iconic football stadium of Bohemians Football Club, for €3.4m, the Irish Independent can reveal.

However, it is understood Dalymount Park will remain a home to Irish football as the FAI is likely to step in and lease the stadium from the council.

Both Bohemians and North Dublin rivals Shelbourne are expected to use the stadium under a lease from the FAI.

The specifics of a plan have yet to be agreed and it is understood the entire deal hinges on Dublin City Council (DCC) re-acquiring Tolka Park, the current home ground of Drumcondra-based Shelbourne, for free. The council is the freeholder of Tolka Park, meaning that it owns it outright, but it has since leased the ground out and the deal would see the lease returned to the council.

Boomtime property developer Jerry O'Reilly has a key stake in the ground and is understood to be amenable to a deal.

It is understood Tolka Park could be demolished and redeveloped to help the council recoup their investment.

The council would then look to redevelop Dalymount if the sale is completed, and would possibly look for grants from central government to help renovate the ground.

Bohemians has debts of more than €4m owed to Zurich bank, who also own a section of the grounds. The club has just secured a write down of "about €1m", according to a source close to the deal.

DCC now plans to pay the balance of the debt owed to Zurich, €3.4m, and take ownership of Dalymount Park. Both sides are said to be happy with the final agreed price.

Bohemians also have some smaller debts on the stadium, believed to be in the region of €500,000, which the council wants restructured before a final sale takes place as it wants to acquire the stadium debt free. The smaller debts are mainly owed to investors and supporters who have invested in the football club over the years. However it is understood that officials are confident that the debt issue can be resolved.

Bohemians Honorary Secretary Stephen Lambert said that he was "happy that the council are to take control of the ground" and said there had been an agreement reached, but added that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", referring to Tolka Park.

He added: "We are hopeful it will go through, our aim is to stay in Dalymount any way we can." He did not comment on a debt write down, saying it was "Zurich's business". No one from Zurich was available for comment at the time of publication.

A spokesman from Shelbourne said he was unaware of progress in talks on Tolka Park.

Dalymount Park, described as the "soul of Irish football" by FAI chief John Delaney, previously played host to a raft of Irish internationals and drew in crowds of over 40,000 in its heyday. However, it has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years and was due to be sold to developer Liam Carroll for €60m until the deal fell through in 2008.

Mr Delaney previously hinted at the ground's redevelopment, saying improving the grounds could be part of the legacy of Dublin's partial hosting of the Euro 2020 football championship. A spokesman for DCC last night said he was not aware of a sale agreed on Dalymount.

Irish Independent