Wednesday 19 September 2018

Dundalk deal with new American owners nears completion​

 

Connolly and Brown steered Dundalk out of a difficult position in 2012 and the appointment of Stephen Kenny brought about a period of success. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Connolly and Brown steered Dundalk out of a difficult position in 2012 and the appointment of Stephen Kenny brought about a period of success. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell​

The American takeover of League of Ireland side Dundalk is on course to be completed this side of Christmas.

Chicago based private equity firm Peak6 are set to take 100pc control if the final details of negotiations can be thrashed out in the coming days.

Peak6 own 25pc of Bournemouth and they have also have an interest in Roma as part of their sporting portfolio.

Dundalk's Europa League exploits put them on their radar and they have been in advanced discussions with the Lilywhites hierarchy with current owners Paul Brown and Andy Connolly set to relinquish control.

Legal representatives from the US side have been carrying out due diligence on the project, and Dundalk's owners have refused to comment on the state of play with talks at a delicate stage. But it's understood that progress has been made and confirmation of a deal is close.

Connolly and Brown steered Dundalk out of a difficult position in 2012 and the appointment of Stephen Kenny was the catalyst for a period of success on the pitch. They have tried to balance running Dundalk in tandem with their business and have consistently made it clear they were open to investors who could take the club to another level.

Dundalk only have two full-time administrative employees and general manager Martin Connolly has been asked to stay on as part of a transition.  Peak 6's initial plans involve investment in Oriel Park itself.

They will encounter a changing Irish football climate with talks ongoing between the FAI and clubs over the administration of the league from 2019 onwards.

The Irish Independent has learned that the FAI and clubs have discussed a plan where a new organisation - essentially a partnership between both sides - would take control of affairs.

Consultation talks in Northern Ireland led to the establishment of a new body - the Northern Irish Football League - in 2013 and southern bodies are looking at that model but the respective stakeholders are yet to reach a firm agreement on the path forward.

Meetings between the FAI and the Premier Clubs Alliance (PCA) have been ongoing across the year. A major part of talks has been the governance of the league in the longer term. The FAI have been in full control since 2007 when a merger agreement with the clubs was signed.

But a change is on the cards with the existing agreement up for renewal. The three options on the table were a retention of the status quo with the FAI in charge, the clubs taking over the entire operation, or a partnership between the two parties. The latter option was identified as the preference, although that is by no means a unanimous view, and there is a road to travel to reach agreement on how that might even operate.

It's believed that one potential scenario would involve FAI employees transferring across to work for the new entity. The retention of the new national underage leagues at U19, U17, U15 and eventually U13 level is part of any plan.

Leading figures at First Division clubs have taken issue with the fact that the FAI have been involved in dialogue with the PCA about the direction for the overall league when any decisions would affect them.

In the shorter term, they are seeking clarity about the promotion and relegation situation for 2018 with no certainty yet on how the switch to a ten team top flight will impact on how many teams go up and down. That has annoyed second tier clubs that are working to finalise their budget.

Irish Independent

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