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07 Dec 2021

Confused about what's happening at Oriel? The Dundalk Ownership Saga explained

Stadium & Facilities Redevelopment group set up to look into future of Oriel Park

Peak6 are no longer involved with Dundalk FC after the American-based investment firm officially relinquished their control of the club to a locally-driven consortium.

The news, which has been unanimously welcomed by the club’s supporters, finally brings down the curtain on a heavily-criticised ownership that lasted the best part of four years.

Former co-owner, Andy Connolly, along with Statsports are the driving forces behind the takeover. Connolly and his Fastfix business partner, Paul Brown, oversaw what was the most successful era of Dundalk’s history between 2013 and 2018 under Stephen Kenny.

Statsports is a sports technology firm that was founded in 2008 by Dundalk natives Alan Clarke and Sean O’Connor and has partnerships with some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

In a statement, Peak6 co-founder Matt Hulsizer said: “We are incredibly proud of all we achieved with Dundalk FC over these past several years.

“We purchased Dundalk FC in 2018 because we love football and saw the potential to reinvigorate the team through an influx of capital and strategic leadership.

“During our tenure, we had the opportunity to get to know the town, the club, and most importantly, the passion that local fans have for the club.

“That’s why we’re so pleased to have found a group of buyers who have local ties and a deep-rooted history with Dundalk FC.

“I have no doubt they will continue to support the success of the club going forward, and we will continue rooting for the club’s success right alongside the fans.”

Based in Chicago, Peak6 acquired control of the Oriel Park outfit in 2018 and the team won the double that year before winning the SSE Airtricity League again in 2019.

However, matters quickly turned sour after that success, with chairman Mike Treacy being replaced with Bill Hulsizer – the 79-year-old father of Peak6 co-founder Matt.

Vinny Perth was sacked as head coach just ten games into the 2020 season and was replaced with the inexperienced Filippo Giovagnoli, who won an FAI Cup and brought the club to the Europa League group stages for only the second time in its history.

Shane Keegan and Jim Magilton also had spells in the dugout before Perth returned in June, and he has since secured the team’s Premier Division status with a game to spare.

However, it is unclear whether or not Perth, whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign, will be part of the plans going forward under the new ownership.

With the team underachieving this term, several high profile departures on and off the field further disgruntled supporters, who had protested against Peak6 throughout 2021.

A consortium based in Northern Ireland with links to Glentoran FC owner Ali Pour and First for Players managing director Mags Byrne had recently been linked with a takeover. 

Speculation linking that particular operation was negatively received by Dundalk supporters, while Perth expressed his desire to see a community spirit restored to Oriel.

Perth’s wishes were granted just days after the recent 2-0 home win over Longford Town, which ensured The Lilywhites would be playing Premier Division football in 2022.

In attendance for that game was Connolly and his brother, Martin, who departed his role as chief operating officer shortly after Magilton’s arrival at the beginning of the year.

Just three days after the takeover was completed, it was announced that Magilton, who is a client of the First for Players agency, would be leaving the club with immediate effect.

“I would like to thank everyone that assisted me during my time at Dundalk FC,” said Magilton, who leaves less than a year into his four-year contract as sporting director. It is a great club with passionate supporters and I wish the new local consortium the very best.”

Dundalk also announced the return of Colm Murphy as club secretary over the weekend. “Like everybody else in the town, I was delighted to hear that the negotiations ended successfully,” said the lifelong supporter, who held the position between 2013 and 2020.“I am looking forward to helping the new owners and everybody at Oriel Park bring the club forward.”

With a sixth-place finish guaranteed no matter what the outcome, Dundalk end what has been an eventful season this Friday night at home to Derry City (kick-off, 7.45pm).

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