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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Council seals €3.4m deal to buy Dalymount Park

Dalymount Park
Dalymount Park
Dalymount Park, home to Bohemian Football Club, which is soon to be sold.
Dalymount Park, Dublin in 2005

DUBLIN City Council has agreed to buy historic northside stadium Dalymount Park for €3.4m the Herald has learned.

Once finalised, the deal is likely to see the stadium in Phibsborough leased to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) for the use of both Bohemians and their rivals Shelbourne FC.

It is understood that the deal is dependent on the city council re-acquiring Shelbourne's current home, Tolka Park, for free so that it can be redeveloped.

Football has been played at Dalymount Park for more than a century and the council take- over could lead to the renovation of the famous grounds.

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Bohemians currently has debts of more than €4m owed to Zurich bank, who also own a section of the Dalymount grounds. The club has just secured a write down of "about €1m", according to a source close to the deal.

The City Council now plans to pay the balance of the debt owed to Zurich, €3.4m, and take ownership of the stadium.

Both sides are said to be happy with the final agreed price, which is up slightly from an initial estimate of €3m.

The deal is dependant on the city council re-acquiring nearby Tolka Park for free.

Dallier2.jpg
Dalymount Park, home to Bohemian Football Club

Dalymount Park, home to Bohemian Football Club

The council is currently the freeholder of the stadium in Drumcondra, meaning that it owns it outright, but it has since leased the ground out. The deal would see the lease returned to the council.

Boomtime property developer Jerry O'Reilly has a key stake in the ground and is understood to be amenable to a deal.

The plan would be for Tolka Park to be demolished and redeveloped to help the council recoup their investment in Dalymount.

Bohemians honorary secretary Stephen Lambert said that he was "happy that the council are to take control of the ground".

He said that there had been an agreement reached, but added that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", referring to Tolka Park aspect of the deal.

"We are hopeful it will go through - our aim is to stay in Dalymount any way we can," Mr Lambert said.

He did not comment on a debt write down, saying that it was "Zurich's business".

No one from Zurich was available for comment at the time of publication.

A spokesman from Shelbourne said that he was unaware of progress regarding talks on Tolka Park.

Meanwhile, a council spokesman also said he was not aware of a sale agreed on Dalymount and did not comment further.

Dalymount Park, described as the "soul of Irish football" by current FAI chief John Delaney, drew in crowds of more than 40,000 in its heyday.

Disrepair

However, Dalymount has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years and was due to be sold to developer Liam Carroll for €60m until the deal fell through in 2008.

Mr Delaney has previously hinted at the ground's redevelopment, saying it could be part of the legacy of Dublin's partial hosting of the Euro 2020 football championship.

"I would love if we could get Dalymount Park out of debt and redeveloped for 2020," he said in September.

It is understood that Dublin City Council would seek to redevelop Dalymount if the sale is completed, and would possibly look for grants from central government to help renovate the grounds.

hnews@herald.ie

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