Two Famous Irish Grounds To Be Acquired by The State


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Picture credit: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Dalymount Park and Tolka Park to be Acquired by Dublin City Council

Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele played his only match in Ireland at historic Dublin venue.

Two of the most storied football stadiums in the country, Bohemians’ Dalymount Park and  Shelbourne’s Tolka Park, are in the final stages of being acquired by Dublin City Council according to The Irish Times. The deal is dependent on Bohs settling their debt with Zurich bank, believed to €3.6m, DCC is funding the proposal and will take the freehold on the ground once the deal is complete. DCC currently owns Tolka Park, but has since leased it, the deal would see the leasehold return to DCC.

As has been suggested multiple times over the last number of years, Shels will likely move to Dalymount as part of the deal, possibly as early as the 2016 season, which would leave the quickly approaching 2015 season as their last in Dublin 9. Tolka Park, a 2.3km walk from Dalymount, occupies a prime piece of land in Drumcondra, will then likely be used for residential development.

The news comes a few months after FAI CEO John Delaney had talked about using Euro 2020 as a chance to redevelop Dalymount stadium, leaving a legacy from the tournament.

The move is likely to be controversial, particularly with Shels fans who have called Tolka home since 1989. However with both clubs known to have weak financial positions, as well as declining performances on the pitch, it may be in the best interests of both clubs. With Shamrock Rovers playing at South Dublin County Council owned Tallaght Stadium it will leave the majority of Dublin clubs playing in state owned stadia.

See Also: The Night Zinedine Zidane Played In Dalymount Park

The Football stadium is to sell for €3m as Nama in talks

DALYMOUNT: Dublin soccer's spiritual home on the Northside
DALYMOUNT: Dublin soccer’s spiritual home on the Northside

Dublin City Council is in talks with Bohemians football club to buy its iconic stadium, Dalymount Park, at a knock-down price of €3m, the Sunday Independent can reveal. Brazilian football superstar Pele played his only match in Ireland at the historic ground.

The €3m price tag for Dalymount is a far cry from what Bohemians nearly got for the stadium in 2006, when Celtic Tiger-era developer Liam Carroll offered to pay €60m for it, though that deal subsequently fell through.

The council is also looking to re-acquire Tolka Park, the home ground of Drumcondra-based side Shelbourne for free as part of the deal. According to a source close to the talks, both clubs are eager to strike a deal in the hope of stabilising their finances.

Dalymount has several partial owners, with Nama having appointed a receiver to part of the terrace at the Phibsboro end of the stadium two years ago, although this is said to not be an obstacle to any potential deal, while Zurich Bank owns a section of the grounds and is owed roughly €4m by the League of Ireland side.

The club is currently in talks to secure a €1m write-down on their debt with Zurich, after which Dublin City Council would pay the balance of the debt and take full ownership of the stadium.

As part of the deal, the council would also get full ownership of Tolka Park.

The council is currently the freeholder of the stadium, meaning it owns it outright, but has since leased the ground out. The deal would see the lease returned to the council. Shelbourne is currently renting the stadium from a company called Accolade Ltd.

It is understood that Tolka Park could be demolished and redeveloped to help the council recoup their investment in Dalymount, while Dalymount will likely be leased to the FAI, which would then lease out the stadium to both Shelbourne and Bohemians, although the specifics of a deal have yet to be agreed.

The two clubs are said to be at a risk of financial difficulties if an agreement cannot be secured. Both are in precarious financial situations, with Shelbourne facing debts of roughly €7m and Bohemians just under €2m in the red after a 2010 revaluation of Dalymount valued the stadium at just €9m, although it is likely to be worth more since the Dublin property market rebounded.

The 113-year-old stadium has played host to some famous clashes throughout the years, and even saw Pele, the Brazilian three-time World Cup winner regarded by many as the greatest soccer player ever, visit in 1972 with his club side Santos to play a selection from League of Ireland sides including Bohemians.

A spokesman for Bohemians declined to comment. Chairman of Shelbourne Joeseph Casey said: “We would need certain commitments before a move across [to Dalymount] happens [but] hopefully it will. Both stadiums are falling down and neither club has money to put into it.”

Mr Casey said that he was hopeful of the formation of a management company that would operate Dalymount, similar to New Stadium Ltd which operates the Aviva Stadium, which would split any profits 50:50 between the two clubs. He added that he would like to see the two clubs secure a long term lease for Dalymount if a deal is reached.

FAI boss John Delaney has previously hinted at a deal, saying that the redevelopment of Dalymount could be part of the legacy of Dublin’s partial hosting of the European 2020 soccer championship.

Speaking in September, he said: “I would love if we could get Dalymount Park out of debt and be redeveloped for 2020. I’d like to see Dalymount house two League of Ireland clubs, Bohemians and possibly Shelbourne as well.” A spokesman for the FAI said: “We are engaged in background discussions with various parties in relation to Dalymount Park.” Zurich and Nama both declined to comment.

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