Sunday 21 October 2018

Dundalk's US owners grounded in reality - Connolly

Dundalk FC manager Martin Connolly Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Dundalk FC manager Martin Connolly Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dundalk FC general manager Martin Connolly says that the club's new American owners are not ''blindfolded' to the realities of their new environment.

And Connolly - the brother of former owner Andy Connolly - believes that the consortium backed by Peak6 will take their time before clarifying their strategy on the club's direction.

Des Casey, Dundalk FC's president, has confirmed that the deal to sell has not affected the lease over Oriel Park. The Casey family own the ground, and Dundalk FC hold a long-term lease to play football at the venue which has 74 years left to run.

Casey, a veteran football administrator at FAI and UEFA level, told LMFM nothing has changed as part of the American takeover.

He acknowledged that the dated facility needs renovation and Connolly reiterated that point in a radio interview that was arranged to offer Dundalk fans reassurance about the handover.

The former Dundalk player will be staying on to manage operations and work under new CEO Malachy Brannigan.

Connolly said that his brother and Paul Brown thought carefully about handing over the reins and believe they have picked well.

Proposal

"They are happy these are the right people," said Connolly, "I've been through the process with them, and I think they're right. They looked at every proposal and, if they felt it wasn't the right fit for Dundalk, they'd still be the owners today."

Connolly dismissed talk of a new 7,500-seater stadium but said that the American owners are aware of Oriel Park's run-down state, indicating that improvements are on the agenda.

Brown and Connolly felt that stage of development was beyond them, although it's understood they have left the club in a healthy financial position with monies left over from the 2016 Europa League run that put the club on the map.

"Peak6 and the new owners have decided they want to lead the next stage of development," said Connolly. "There's no diggers going in over the next few weeks, but they're well aware of the lack of facilities in Oriel Park and what's needed."

He added that manager Stephen Kenny might be able to fill the remaining spaces in his squad with a slightly higher standard of player.

The new owners are due to return to Dundalk in the next fortnight. Peak6 are backing a consortium that have other interests in football.

Corey Woolfolk, an ex-pro footballer, and minority Swansea shareholder Jordan Gardner are involved along with Englishman Fred Spencer who has worked as a football agent and is co-founder and partner of a New York venture capital firm called Kicking Capital.

Meanwhile, Premier Division newcomers Waterford have signed former Ajax player Stanley Aborah (30), who made his senior breakthrough with the Dutch giants under Ronald Koeman back in the 2004/05 campaign.

Elsewhere, Limerick have bolstered their ranks with experienced local players with ex-Waterford and Cork City striker Mark O'Sullivan coming on board.

New boss Tommy Barrett has also re-signed old favourite Shaun Kelly.

Irish Independent

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