White smoke for Dundalk as US takeover nears completion
The American takeover of Dundalk is agreed in principle and a formal announcement is expected this week.
A consortium of US businessmen backed by investment company Peak6 have been in protracted negotiations about taking 100pc control of the League of Ireland side from current owners Paul Brown and Andy Connolly.
That process was delayed by the Christmas holiday period, with the relevant parties also going through the finer points of the agreement with their legal representatives before the process reached a conclusion.
Barring any last-minute hitches, a statement from Dundalk to confirm the change of ownership could happen as early as tomorrow.
It's understood that the American side have been briefed on Dundalk's pre-season plans.
However, Dundalk have been tight-lipped on what the short-term implications of the new regime might be with pressing questions about the plans for upgrading Oriel Park.
There will also be an impact on day-to-day administration but for manager Stephen Kenny it's full steam ahead with preparations for the 2018 campaign.
And he has looked overseas to strengthen his squad with Lithuanian international Karolis Chvedukas arriving on a two-year contract. He will help to strengthen a midfield area weakened by the departure of Patrick McEleney to Oldham.
Kenny is also looking for a new striker to compensate for the absence of David McMillan and that search has brought him to Scandinavia.
Swedish-Croat Luka Mijaljevic – who spent the past two seasons with Swedish second division side GAIS – is believed to be on Dundalk's radar. The 26-year-old is an experienced operator in Sweden, but has also spent time in Croatia with NK Istra.
Another potential recruit closer to home is UCD striker Georgie Kelly, the top scorer in last year’s First Division with 17 goals.
The Donegal native has been considering his options since November. Kelly is in the final year of his college degree and that is a potential complication with Dundalk training full-time during the days.
Chvedukas is a done deal, though and he arrives with a varied CV. He has 19 caps for his country and was involved in five of their World Cup 2018 qualifiers – including appearances against England and Scotland.
He was most recently on the books of Lithuanian champions Suduva, the club where he has spent the majority of his career, but the 26-year-old has also spent brief spells in Croatia and Poland.
His time with Croatian top-flight RNK Split was marred by financial difficulties which meant he went without pay for a lengthy period.
Chvedukas is looking for a fresh start in Ireland and he has close family members already living in the country. He has the same representation as Danish defender Niclas Vemmelund, who spent last year with Dundalk before returning home.
"I am hoping that the next two years will be very good for me," said Chvedukas. "I am excited to be here. There is a good set up here and of course a very good coach. I am a midfielder who likes to get forward and also I like to get on the ball and move.
"I can play in three positions across the midfield. The coach will decide which he thinks will be best for me."
Midfielder Georgie Poynton has also signed a new contract after spending the 2017 campaign on loan with Bohemians.
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