The owner of Oriel Park have insisted there is “no impediment” on Dundalk FC in upgrading the ground due to the club not owning it.
In an exclusive interview, Des Casey – whose family have leased the Carrick Road venue to the club since 1936 – said he would be happy to support PEAK6 with any plans they had to upgrade the stadium.
However, he said he has had no approach from them regarding any plans to renovate what has become the most criticised ground in the League of Ireland.
Last month Dundalk FC chairman Mike Treacy called for local and national government support to bring the stadium up to the standard of the team.
He told RTÉ Sport after Vinny Perth had guided the side to their fifth title in six seasons: “We have explored near-term quick fixes for Oriel Park, but the reality of the situation is we are not going to spend €5m to €6m to build a piece of real estate on land we don’t own.
“We need help from our county. We need help from our national, local government and the FAI. If you think about this place and Dundalk, Dundalk Football Club is a fabric of this community. This town deserves to have a stadium that is up to the standard of what we see on the pitch every day,” said Treacy.
However, Casey says owning the land is “no impediment” to upgrading Oriel Park, insisting that the rent of the ground for the six beneficiaries from the family is nominal with 73 years of a 99-year lease still to run, making it as good as their land.
“There is a 99-year lease on the ground and they can build or expand as part of that. They have a total licence to improve the place if they wish,” he said.
“The lease is totally geared for the viability of the football club and it will still be in place long after we’re all gone.
“The Casey family have not been approached with any regard to a development in Oriel Park but in the event that we were, we would be – as we were in the past – totally supportive.
“There’s no elephant in the room. As in the past, any improvement would just involve a consultation. There are certain impediments such as they can’t have any habitation on the grounds but any proposal to upgrade or do a makeover of the ground would have the full support of the Casey family,” said the former UEFA vice-president.
Casey also dismissed the suggestion that the club could not receive grants due to not owning the ground, pointing out that the Department of Tourism and Sport invested €1.25 million in Oriel Park in 2006 towards the installation of the artificial surface and Youth Development Centre.
“There has been no sports capital grant in Oriel since 2006, which is 13 years, but that is as much to do with management not seeking it as anything.
“The ownership of the land wasn’t an impediment then, nor is it an impediment now.”
Casey also re-iterated that his family had every intention of making Oriel Park available for the club as long as they wanted it.
“It’s for football as long as they want it,” he said.
“If they decide to leave that’s all right too but it’ll be there after we’re gone.
“It’s water-tight the lease. It gives them total and absolute control of everything within the four walls of the ground,” said the club president.