Around half of Dundalk's Europa League €6 million or so windfall will be accounted for by costs according to the club's General Manager, Martin Connolly, who says that no decision has been made at this point on how to spend any surplus.
The cost of travelling to away games has been high, Connolly told the Dundalk Democrat, while ticket revenues have been constrained by the severely limited capacity at Tallaght stadium but the club appears to expect a profit of around €3 million on its participation in the competition which, it says at this stage, will be invested in some aspect of the club's future development.
“At the moment we are looking at €5.7 million in winnings plus €120,000 for our draw in Alkmaar last week,” he says. “The costs are astronomical but we are playing at the top table now which means costs are going to be higher.
We’ve had four charter flights already, three getting to the group stages and then one to Holland last week and we still have to go to Russia and Israel which are the big two and the most expensive. On top of that we’ve had severe accommodation costs as, due to the distance, a couple have been two-night stays.”
The bonuses agreed with players are, he confirms, a significant factor while "other costs to consider are the games that are held in Tallaght. I think we'll only have around 3,500 to 4,000 tickets to sell for the Maccabi Tel-Aviv game (this Thursday). That will have financial implications as well because there is an awful lot of work to be done to get the ground up to scratch for the Europa League and there is obviously the cost of renting Tallaght so I don't think we'll make any money from playing the games up there.
“All these costs are ongoing,” he continues in relation to estimating the total outlay involved, “but I would expect maybe in the region of €3 million but I can’t say that for certain. We really haven’t had that much time to think about it because we’ve been that busy.”
Asked what the club intends to do with a surplus that is still set to equal the prize money from 30 league titles (they may well yet win one of those as well in the coming weeks), he says the issue has yet to be even considered. “We honestly haven’t had 10 minutes to think about it. It’s been hectic and it’s going to get even busier. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks we will have an opportunity to sit down and put in place a short, medium and long-term plan but from a personal point of view, there are a few areas that I would like to look at.
"The first is sorting out the lease. That's the main priority but it's going to be difficult. The second is talking to Stephen Kenny about how we can maintain this terrific run that we're on and the third is putting a youth development plan in place for the future."
The lease is a priority because it is a major barrier to the redevelopment of Oriel Park which is in urgent need of investment.
“The problem we have as a club is that if the former owner (Gerry Matthews) still owns the lease, then legally, what work can we do at Oriel Park? It’s not ours.”
This is also an issue when it comes to licensing with the club having repeatedly received permission to play at Oriel in recent years despite the situation appearing to contravene the FAI’s regulations.
“We owe it to ourselves and the supporters that we carry out due diligence in everything that we do,” he says in relation to sorting out the ownership issue so as to lay the groundwork for any development work. “There is absolutely no way that we can commit to changing the pitch, building a new stadium, building a new stand, only to be told, ‘You don’t actually own it.’ There’s no way we can commit to anything like that.”
Read the full interview with Gavin McLaughlin here.