There are wonderful and willing volunteers at Dundalk Football Club. Hardcore supporters flock up the Carrick Road in their masses on match nights. They should all feel a part of what’s going on.
Mark Devlin will leave his post as Dundalk FC CEO this week as owners Peak6 embark on a familiar appointment process.
A third chief executive in as many campaigns in control looms and such a prolific turnover in a key position will do little to appease the sceptics who continue to question the motives behind their purchase of The Lilywhites.
Devlin recently met with high-ranking members of Louth County Council over Oriel Park, while the Englishman was vocal about the all-island league proposals, saying after the October meeting of clubs where the cross-border merger was discussed:
“Of course there will be challenges, but nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without hard work.
“It is definitely a very exciting project and there is great potential, but obviously there is more work to be done.”
The question now: Has all his work, representation and possible progress been banked or wasted? Devlin was Mal Brannigan’s successor. He, too, had sat down with the local authority, sponsors, etc, but there was very little trace of his impact, positive or negative, post his departure.
In saying that, it’s quite difficult to fully assess the work of either, given that Oriel Park is very much a closed shop in its dealings these days. Hence why a few supporters’ social media suppositions which suggested the promotion of a local person to the chief executive’s chair received widespread support.
Devlin was never officially unveiled as CEO, rarely gave interviews and was invisible for parts of the season, albeit he was good in terms of fan interaction via Twitter, mingling with them on certain issues towards the end of the term. His tenure, though, was blackened by his public spat with the Argus newspaper and local journalist James Rogers, a controversy which was subsequently settled amicably.
Nonetheless, two years into the Americans’ purchase and bar a few minor aesthetic touches, nothing major, aside from upholstery upgrades in the Enda McGuill suite and significant improvements to the behind-the-scenes playing facilities, has been achieved stadium-wise.
This turf has been crossed so many times that it’s muddy, but if the current period of unparalleled success were to finish in the morning, memories aren’t of much comfort to the next generation. The entire Kenny and Perth eras require a monument, such as a suitable playing facility, for these great times to hold meaning into the future.
Straying back on course, though, it’s vividly apparent that the next person chosen to manage The Lilywhites from above has to be a triumph, or at least a longer-term hit than Brannigan or Devlin.
The club, as it stands, has the impression of a franchise, one which could be upped and moved to anywhere in the world. Its links to the community are tenuous and strengthening such ties should be an integral point within the next appointee’s brief.
There are wonderful and willing volunteers at Dundalk Football Club. Hardcore supporters flock up the Carrick Road in their masses on match nights. They should all feel a part of what’s going on, not looked at as consumers. Maybe they do and it’s not being suggested for one moment that Peak6 are ranking the usual 2,800 or so as customers, but more could be done in forum-form or the likes, merely to maintain their interest outside of after work on a Friday.
At the very minimum, an awards’ night befitting of the title, run at the end of the campaign, where season ticket holders or premium members could enjoy time in the company of their heroes as they gain recognition. The online voting platform for this year’s ceremony, which was held on the pitch before the St. Patrick’s Athletic game, was a very good idea, but the execution of the presentation lacked customary glamour.
Bringing the club to its parish and showing impressionable off-field results are what Devlin’s successor should be charged with. Ultimately, it’s how the local public should assess his or her tenancy.
The next appointment has to be the right one for all concerned.