Dolan takes major stake


National League champions St Patrick's Athletic announced a major overhaul of the club's ownership and management structure yesterday as well as an extension to their main sponsorship deal and ambitious plans for a new stadium close to their current home at Richmond Park.

On an eventful day for the club Pat Dolan announced that he had taken a majority stake in the Inchicore club and would once again be concentrating on expanding the business side of the club - though he will, in addition to Managing Director, retain the title of Director of Football - while Liam Buckley, would be taking over the running of the first team.

Buckley, formerly Brian Kerr's assistant manager at St Patrick's, who left Richmond Park when he was passed over for the manager's job 20 months said yesterday that he was surprised at receiving the approach from Dolan last week and that while it was hard to leave Athlone Town "the decision to accept the offer to come here wasn't very difficult at all".

Dolan, who won the league in his only full season as team manager, would, he added, be "a tough act to follow" but "with John Tracey as my sidekick I hope we can take it on to the next stage from what Pat has achieved so far".

The new man and his former club, both parties confirmed yesterday, parted company on good terms but Athlone Town vicechairman Padraig Quinn criticised the way St Patrick's handled the move, insisting that the first thing anybody at St Mel's Park had heard about the offer to Buckley had been on Monday afternoon.

"We got a call then from Tim O'Flaherty asking for permission to talk to him despite the fact that they'd been having discussions since last week," he said last night. "We've no problem with Liam in the circumstances, I think everyone here would feel that the offer was too good to turn down but St Patrick's have left us without a manager after one league game and if they are not going to treat us properly now then we'll have to look at what avenues are open to us."

St Patrick's, meanwhile, who have confirmed a five-year extension to their sponsorship deal with Autoglass worth "a six figure sum" also made public their proposals for a new stadium on the site in Inchicore currently occupied by St Michael's Estate.

The complex, on the other side of Emmet Road from Richmond Park has recently been earmarked for demolition by Dublin Corporation but up to this point there has been little consideration given to how the 13 acre site might be used afterwards.

Dolan said yesterday that the club had already confirmed that it would be possible to build a 20,000 seat stadium on the site for approximately £20 million. Though St Patrick's are open to other suggestions this, he insisted, is his preferred option and the club, he estimates, would be capable of generating half of the cost involved.

Further details of the proposals would, Dolan said, follow next January when St Patrick's publish a five-year development plan "but this is an opportunity to do something for Inchicore and the people of west Dublin that will not come along again. With the sort of funding that clubs in other countries receive it could quite easily be achieved and we are confident that if there was support for the idea from the people in the area then we can make it happen."