A DESIRE to safeguard the long-term future of Dundalk FC and to provide a viable long term business model are the DFC Community Trust’s main reasons for wanting to take control of the club, according to Financial Controller Niall Durnin.
Outlining the Trust’s plans for the future at the Launch Night in the Lilywhite Lounge on Thursday night, Durnin said any growth in the club in the coming years had to be based around “sensible business decisions” based on the best interests of Dundalk FC.
At the heart of it will be a strong membership core. A €10 annual subscription fee has been set as the cost of becoming a Trust member. Each member of the Trust will be entitled to one vote to determine who fills positions on the Trust committee.
The Trust envisage the club to be run on a day to day basis by a Chief Executive, General Manager, Commercial Director and a Club Secretary who will work in tandem with the club’s board. This board will include elected members of the Trust.
Durnin also spoke about the costs associated with taking over Dundalk FC, both in the long and in the short term.
“We estimate that the Dundalk FC’s current debt is in the region of €120k to €150k. These figures are widely available in the media and are our best estimates. It costs in the region of €600 to €750k a year to run the club, depending on the level you want to compete at. Before a player is even put on the pitch, you’re talking in the region of €350k to just run the club.
“We have a shortfall of about €150k a year based on the current projections”, he added. “This is a gap that has to be closed and can be done by planning ahead. The club didn’t help themselves last year where they lost over €70k in season ticket sales because they announced the manager and sponsorship just before Christmas.”
He also revealed that the Oriel Park floodlights are due to be upgraded in the next two to three years at a “substantial cost” and that the artificial surface has a similar lifespan before it will have to be replaced. In terms of creditors, there was a large debt in the merchandising department that the Trust - who this season have taken full control of the department - are working to paying off.
Another hot topic regarding any future takeover is the Youth Development Centre and Durnin admitted the Trust would simply not have the resources to take control of the building.
“We don’t believe we are currently in the position, if we take over the club, to take over the YDC. We may want to lease the YDC from the current owner if a viable business plan can be put together or we may want the option of renting the YDC for specific events to generate funds for the club. We feel the YDC can generate significant revenue for the club if acceptable commercial terms can be agreed on.
“The YDC debt is currently estimated at €300k in council levies. There is a payment plan agreed on that but the Trust would not be able to take over a debt that size. It just would not be feasible at this stage.”
Echoing DFC Community Trust Chairman Simon Blackmore’s comments that “time is of the essence” Durnin said that the Trust hope to have signed off on a deal to take control of the club by October.
“By October we want to budget for the 2013 season. We want the takeover complete with an interim board in place at this time to start that process. We then want to relaunch the club in December when season ticket sales commence.
“We need Dundalk fans to sell the vision”, he added. “We need supporters to believe that this Trust’s potential takeover can be successful. This will provide sustainability for the future of our club”.