Sunday 16 December 2018

White smoke for Dundalk as US owners take over

Stephen Kenny. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Stephen Kenny. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The American takeover of Dundalk was formally completed last night.

Owners Paul Brown and Andy Connolly have sold the League of Ireland club to a group of American businessmen backed by investment company Peak6.

No terms have been disclosed but it's understood that the initial payment to take 100pc ownership is a substantial six-figure sum.

Brown and Connolly cleared debts of €192,000 when they took over the troubled club in 2012 and then dug into their pockets to improve the first-team squad.

They leave the club with the finances in a healthy state and in the rare position of having turned a profit on their investment.

Dundalk's fortunes changed dramatically when Stephen Kenny was appointed ahead of the 2013 season, with three league titles in-a-row and Europa League group-stage qualification putting the club on the map.

Brown and Connolly were open to outside investors due to their own work commitments.

"We have always said that we would only step down if we found the right kind of owners for the club and in this consortium we believe we have done that," said Brown.

Peak6 are a private equity firm that own 25pc of Bournemouth and also have a substantial stake in Serie A giants Roma.

For this particular deal, the company are working with a consortium that also have their own individual interests in football.

New co-owner and board member Jordan Gardner has a small stake in Swansea and has been involved in semi-professional soccer football in America.

Another member from the US side who visited Dundalk in October is former Vancouver Whitecaps player Corey Woolfolk. Last November, the footballer turned venture capitalist was part of a consortium that took a controlling stake in Gibraltar-based side Europa Point.

The US regime are expected to offer more details on their operating plans in the next fortnight. It has already emerged that experienced football administrator Malachy Brannigan will come in to oversee day-to-day operations.

He previously held senior roles at Derby and Sheffield United.

Former Bournemouth chairman Trevor Watkins acted as a legal advisor during the protracted negotiations.

However, the biggest decision facing the new owners relates to upgrading the dated Oriel Park.

"We've been following the incredible success of Dundalk FC over the past few seasons and have spent months assessing this opportunity, attending games and getting to know the club," said Gardner, the only person from the US side quoted in a press release.

"What Stephen Kenny and the players have accomplished under the stewardship of Andy Connolly and Paul Brown is nothing short of remarkable.

"We are excited to take up the reins and help build on the club's success. We are confident that with all of us working together there will be many more good days and nights ahead for Dundalk FC."

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