Euro money could lead to Oriel’s redevelopment

Gavin McLaughlin

Reporter:

Gavin McLaughlin

Oriel Park
As a result of winning the SSE Airtricity League title last season, Dundalk will bank a massive €550k for entering this year’s Champions League at the Second Qualifying Round.

As a result of winning the SSE Airtricity League title last season, Dundalk will bank a massive €550k for entering this year’s Champions League at the Second Qualifying Round.

That is a jump of €175k more than St Patrick’s Athletic received last year but, although he admitted the increase in prize money was ‘brilliant’, Dundalk chairman Ciaran Bond said the club had to be be cautious on what they did with it.

“It’s brilliant but unfortunately we’ll go a long way in spending that money before we even receive it,” he said.

“We know from last year that a few European trips can cost you in the region of around €150-180k and we also have to consider the investment needed to get Oriel Park ready for a possible Third Qualifying Round tie.”

That prize money would double to a staggering €1.18 million if Dundalk were to advance to the Third Qualifying Round. Faced with that dream scenario, Bond said it would be remiss of the current board not to look at redeveloping Oriel Park.

“The onus would have to be on us to look at Oriel Park, in terms of developing it and in terms of the pitch. All these things are ongoing at the moment. We have people looking at the pitch and we have people looking at ways to increase the capacity.

“I spoke earlier about how we can get more people into the ground,” he continued.

“On the field, we have a great product. Off the field, one of the major stumbling blocks is the facility. We have an ageing stadium that costs a lot of money every year just to maintain it and there is a line of thought that says we would be better dismantling what we have and starting again because every time something breaks, it has to be replaced.”

One of the main obstacles facing the club at the minute is that they still don’t own the the lease for Oriel Park. Former Dundalk FC owner Gerry Matthews still possesses the lease and Bond said it was a matter that needed resolved.

“At present, the holding company, Dundalk FC Town Ltd, do not own the lease,” he explained. “There’s an agreement that we can use it.

“As a result, we are missing out on Sports Capital Grants to develop Oriel Park. We can only apply for a maximum of €20k when there is projects out there now getting up to €500,000.

“The Government has shifted its emphasis towards regional projects and we would earmark Oriel Park as a regional development centre for the area,” he continued.

“We would be looking at having a 4-7,000 seater stadium in the future but we wouldn’t be able to do that on our own, we would need Government help, maybe local council help and help from the FAI.

“However, without the lease, that is a pipe dream and if it’s not resolved, we are left in limbo, basically.

“Over the past few weeks there has been some movement and we would be hopeful that it is resolved sooner rather than later,” said Bond.