Dundalk could face going out of existence 109 years after the foundation of the club began, the Board of Directors said in a statement released on Friday morning, writes Keith Wallace
The club expressed its disappointment that, with the exception of the DFC Trust, nobody “either directly or indirectly” had contacted them in relation to taking over the club or making a substantial financial contribution when they “need them most”.
With staff already a week behind in wages, another week of non-payment would make Seán McCaffrey’s players free agents.
To date, the recent Honorary Vice President and Supporter Donations programmes have raised a total of €5,950, with Oriel Park chiefs fearful that they could “go out of existence” if they do not receive more financial support.
Outlining the huge fall in revenue this season, the club said its Season Tickets and Net Gate Receipts after 11 games had fallen from €157,000 to €87,000 in the last 12 months.
General Manager Paul Johnston reiterated the “massive concern” for all involved in an interview at the weekend, but he is hopeful that they can come out the other end as a “stronger club”.
“It’s a very serious situation and we want the supporters to know what could happen in the worst-case scenario,” Johnston said.
“This football club does not want to be in a position where we’re two weeks in arrears with players, because at that stage the player is entitled to look for employment in other areas after consultation with the FAI.
“Things are very, very difficult; there is no doubt about it. It’s a massive concern for everybody involved, from the owner, the Board, the players, the staff and I’m sure to the supporters and the public at large.
“It’s not ideal having news stories like this coming out of Oriel Park week in, week out. We’re trying to stop that from happening.
“This situation has been going on over five weeks now since we weren’t able to pay staff. We have managed to pay them since then.
“Obviously, we can’t go on indefinitely in that situation. We have been launching a lot of initiatives in trying to ensure revenue comes into the club to satisfy our liabilities, and we have been successful in some of those.
“People have provided money but, at the moment, we’re living week-to-week. Last week, we were fortunate that people contributed to the football club and we were able to pay wages. This week is a different week and we’re looking at each week as we go.”
Johnston insisted that club owner Gerry Matthews would “sit down and talk to anyone” who would be interested in taking over the club while discussing the Youth Development Centre, which could cause a problem with any bid.
He also admitted that performances on the pitch have not been “what we would all like to see” but, despite five straight defeats at Oriel Park, he stated that McCaffrey continues to enjoy the confidence of the Board.
“It has been difficult this year,” he said. “We have a brand new team. We had seven players signed back in Ian Foster’s second year last season, so there was more stability then and probably a lot more than other clubs in the league.
“There were ten clubs in the league last year; over 50 percent of them lost their manager never mind their playing squad. There is a lot of volatility in the League of Ireland at the moment.
“The business plan is very difficult to implement year on year, and the loss in revenue we’ve had is very difficult. We’re down up to 50 percent in significant revenue streams.
“I’m a football person myself and I’m a club person. I’m from Dundalk and I grew up in the town, and you go to Oriel Park and you want to see your team doing well, you want them to entertain you and you want to see them win games.
“The start of last season was fantastic for everybody. The second half wasn’t so good; the first half of this season has been the same. It has not been so good in regards to what we would all like to see on the pitch.
“But we’re endeavouring to push through and get some results. It’s the ups and downs of football. We have had some extraordinary results. Saint Patrick’s Athletic came to Oriel Park and looked a fine side. To beat them up there and win in Derry are great results.
“We have played Drogheda a few times now. They are third in the league and I’m sure Mick Cooke would say they have been all difficult games against Dundalk.
“We’re fully behind the manager. He has brought in quite a business plan for this year and the years to come. It is youth orientated with a mix of experience.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to support the manager in trying to attract more experience because we haven’t been able to afford it.