Dundalk deny newspaper report about FAI licencing doubts

They also address claims surrounding their stadium future

Oriel Park, Dundalk

Teams line up at Oriel Park ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

League of Ireland champions Dundalk have issued a statement this evening, denying a report by the Irish Times that their Premier Division License for next season was in doubt.

The report claimed that the Lilywhites could be forced out of Oriel Park because of a dispute with former owner Gerry Matthews, who still retains the lease on the ground.

But the club insist that there are no outstanding debts with Mr Matthews and they are confident that they have met all the requirements of the FAI's licensing process.

"Dundalk Football Club fully understands that today’s article in the Irish Times will have caused a lot of distress for our supporters, sponsors and players," the statement on the club's website begins.

"Dundalk FC have been successful every year in our application for a Premier License since the takeover was completed in 2013. We have followed a similar process this year as in previous years and will continue to work with the FAI’s Licensing Department and our legal advisors to clarify any issues that may have emerged by the former owner of Dundalk FC’s attempt to interfere with the licensing process.

"Dundalk FC have signed documentation outlining the agreements made with Mr. Matthews at the time of the transfer of ownership. These documents include the transfer of the license from his company to the new ownership and also provide the terms of the takeover of all football activities in Oriel Park.

"It is our view, and those of our advisors, that these agreements ended Mr. Matthews influence and involvement in any licensing requirements for Dundalk FC in subsequent licensing applications."

The club also addressed the claims of a financial dispute.

"Dundalk Football Club does not have any long-standing financial dispute with Mr Matthews. This is not the first time that Mr Matthews has stated publically that he is owed money by Dundalk Football Club. However, this accusation is completely false," they say.

"The new owners paid Mr Matthews debts at the time of the takeover and rescued the club from going out of existence. There was never, ever, any agreement that would provide for any additional payments to be made to Mr Matthews.

Oriel Park ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

"The only financial agreement with Mr Matthews was to pay an agreed list of creditors that amounted to €192,000. This was paid in full. We will remind Dundalk supporters that we also took over all the risks attached to the club that was bottom of the league facing the very serious prospect of relegation.

"Therefore, we consider it very important that all of our supporters know that we do not owe Mr Matthews any money and that we have adhered to all of the agreements made with him at the time of the transfer of ownership.

"Our position with the lease is straightforward. We are not engaged in a legal dispute with Mr Matthews over the lease. The owner of the ground, Mr Des Casey, has brought an eviction order against Mr Matthews that, since mediation has failed, is now active once again.

"Dundalk FC have paid the terms of the lease to Mr Casey in full since August 2012 as per the agreement to transfer all football activities to the new company. The fact that we do not possess the lease is preventing Dundalk FC from investing in stadium infrastructure but, in our view, does not prevent us applying for a Premier License in the same manner as in previous years.

"Dundalk FC will continue to seek legal advice and work with the FAI to bring this matter to a conclusion. Our only desire since the takeover has been to provide our community with a football club they can be proud of – we do not anticipate recent events to interfere with our objectives."