The New Year brings about plenty of resolutions.
For some it will be to get fit and lose weight, for others it may be a different goal in relation to a new job, a new house or a new skill.
For Dundalk FC, the dawn of 2020 brings about an opportunity for a fresh start.
In the last couple of months there has been a complete clear-out behind the scenes at the club. Gone is CEO Mark Devlin, consultant Andy Burton, Head of Media Dan Pope and over the festive period even club chairman Mike Treacy.
While some will question what impact such upheaval will have ahead of the new season, the reality is it is a chance to learn lessons from the past and start building up the club’s relationship with the local community.
That’s something that Devlin never quite managed in his seven months at the club, nor did his predecessor Mal Brannigan.
At times last season there were serious divides behind the scenes at Oriel Park which threatened to distract from the considerable achievements Vinny Perth’s side were clocking up on the field. Long-standing staff and volunteers became disillusioned, with some even quitting and while the blame game for Chris Shields missing the FAI Cup final should perhaps be left in the past, there’s little doubt that it could well have been avoided were it not for the off the field rows that perhaps never fully came to light bar a brief period where this reporter was banned by the club for an article which they claimed to be false but later acknowledged to be 100% accurate and true.
The good news for supporters is that after a season where there were many divides off the field, there is a real unity going into 2020.
Martin Connolly is effectively running things at the club on a day-to-day basis, assisted by the likes of Colm Murphy, Simon Blackmore and many other volunteers.
Perhaps the real silver lining to emerge from a difficult year behind the scenes was the emergence of Bill Hulsizer.
The new club chairman is the father of PEAK6 founder and CEO Matt.
His interest in the club is more than passing. He has a real passion for it, to the point where he met with several supporters and sponsors on a one-to-one basis towards the end of last season.
This included a meeting with yours truly where his first sentences included an apology for the messy affair of last season.
Both he and Martin asked for a clean slate and acknowledged that the club had made mistakes which they were looking to rectify.
It might be early days so far but the early indications are positive that those mistakes have been learnt from.
The trophies for perhaps the first time in all of the successful seasons in recent years were paraded around the towns in schools, offices and sports clubs and two new roles were advertised for people to look after the club’s commercial and media operations.
They’re all positive developments but the best may be yet to come. Bill has explored many other avenues, including the possibility of finally upgrading Oriel Park.
Sources close to him and PEAK6 suggest their interest in the club may have changed from investment to legacy. If that is to believed they may be willing to put in a significant sum towards finally upgrading the club’s dilapidated facilities.
That will be a long-term project, of course, and there are many hurdles to overcome before it comes to fruition but there’s a sense that the possibility of something happening with regard to the ground might be closer than perhaps ever before.
We’ll watch this space on that one.
In the short term the small steps are having a positive effect and Vinny Perth continues to be supported as he builds towards a title defence next season.
Given where Dundalk were early in the last decade, few can complain with how they ended it.
It has been a magnificent few years for Dundalk FC on the pitch. Hopefully 2020 can be the start of where the club begins to catch up with its on the field achievements off it.