Dundalk CEO appeals for patience on Oriel upgrades
Arriving at Dundalk FC to great excitement and fanfare given his heavy involvement in big ground redevelopments at Brentford FC in England, Mark Devlin was always likely to encounter some unrealistic expectations upon taking up the role of CEO at the League of Ireland champions. And while critics will argue it shouldn’t be unrealistic for Ireland’s Champions League representatives and domestic force of the decade to play out of a reasonably high standard stadium, Devlin has been quick to point out the historic lack of investment and importance placed on Irish clubs to provide top class stadia for its players and supporters.
Speaking on S3EP16 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast, Devlin once again highlighted the above and seemed to suggest the club would look to make small improvements to its current home before any long term plans are established.
“I think there’s been a general malaise in the League of Ireland, it’s been starved of investment, cash from the centre, I still find it hard to believe that clubs don’t know what the TV deal is worth to them, what the sponsorship deal is worth to them, so with the lack of funds coming to them, clubs have existed on the goodwill of owners and volunteers, but that gets you so far and what it gets you is peace meal stadiums.”
When pressed on a potential long term solution to the issues facing Oriel Park, Devlin was asked on the show if perhaps a move away from the clubs historic home was required for the club to truly fulfill its potential, particularly in Europe. The former Brentford CEO then revealed that the clubs current PEAK6 owners had indeed completed research into the “Lilywhites” maximum potential in terms of a home base and the conclusion reached was Oriel Park is the best location for the County Louth side, given its proximity to the town and local transport links.
“The club have previously done some work on studies in terms of moving away from Oriel and the results were the area for Oriel is the best as it’s near the train-station and it’s just outside the Town centre. The only other option would be to move to a greenfield site, where public transport wouldn’t be so good, there would be a lot of driving involved so the area at Oriel is probably the right site, it’s just about what can be achieved there” commented Devlin.
In an open and honest sit down, Devlin went on to reveal he felt the openness of Dundalk’s home venue was a major issue, particularly in poor weather conditions, hinting that perhaps areas such as the vacant Town end of the ground could be looked at in the not so distant future. While such comments will be welcomed by some Dundalk supporters, others will feel the clubs American owners are still yet to truly address the future of their beloved Oriel Park and it was no surprise to hear the clubs CEO appeal for patience from followers of the club.
“I think given the owners come from North America they understand the importance of good facilities. There are exciting times ahead, we’ll make the small steps, hopefully as quickly as possible and all I would ask is a degree of patience as we put the plan in place for more major improvements at Oriel said Devlin, who praised the dedication and levels of investment put into the clubs on-field budget by the owners since their arrival at the club.
Want to hear Mark Devlin tell the story of how a board member was held at gunpoint in his office at QPR? Or maybe how Mark survived a light plane crash during his time at Swindon? Of course you do! Tune in to this weeks Between the Stripes LOI podcast below, as our feature interview with the Dundalk CEO kicks-off an action packed show! Be sure to subscribe!