Dundalk FC chairman Bill Hulsizer has confirmed that he hopes to appoint a new ‘boss’ to oversee the running of the club off the field sometime in the next two weeks.
There have been rumours of a possible Director of Football or CEO role being created at Oriel Park for some time but Hulsizer confirmed to The Argus on Sunday evening that this would be happening with three candidates currently in the running.
“We have a shortlist and it’s got three people on it,” the 78-year-old confirmed.
“We haven’t come to an agreement with any of the three yet but we’re trying and hopefully it will happen in the next couple of weeks. We’ve been searching for a while and we’ve now found three candidates and we’ll choose one of them sometime in the next two weeks.”
Asked what the new person’s exact title would be, Hulsizer said: “Boss. I don’t know how else to say it. I don’t care if you call him the Pope of football in Dundalk, it doesn’t matter. He will be there to boss.”
Hulsizer, who has been criticised by supporters at times this season for alleged interference in on the field activities, said he would be taking a step back from day to day affairs once the new appointment was made having admitted that the current arrangement of PEAK6 trying to run things from America had its flaws.
“Whoever we choose they have to have business skills, football skills, football knowledge, football contacts, business contacts. We need somebody to run the club. I can’t do it from the US. We haven’t done a great job so far except qualifying for the Europa League.
“The new man’s job will be to run the club. There should be no daily communication between the board of directors and the people running the club in Ireland.
“It needs to be organised and it’s not. That will be his first mission.”
Asked if the new appointment would also be brought in to identify targets, Hulsizer said that would rest on the shoulders of current interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli.
“That’s going to be Filippo’s job. He is the coach,” he said.
“Now I’d expect that person to help and oversee it because if Filippo has a weakness it might be in administration. Certainly, he’s not familiar with Irish peculiarities.
“All of the candidates have good football backgrounds so do I expect them to totally ignore the football side? No, I’d expect them to participate and help wherever they can. If you hire a boss, he’s the boss.”
Hulsizer also said he expected Giovagnoli, who was a shock appointment as Vinny Perth’s replacement in August, to sign a new contract to take up the manager’s job permanently very soon – possibly as early as this week.
“He has been offered a contract,” Hulsizer confirmed.
“He is reviewing it but Filippo is Italian and English is not his first language. Irish law is complex and if the contract was in Italian he’d have probably signed it already but right now he’s trying to get it reviewed.
“I see him being the manager next year. We’re proceeding on that basis and trying to sign contracts and everything and hopefully we’ll get it done in the next week.”
The chairman also said that discussions had begun with some of the club’s 17 out of contract players in an attempt to tie some of them down for next season.
“We’ve already started talking to them. There are things that we’re going to have to demand because of Covid-19 but Filippo has certainly tried to find out which players want to be at Dundalk. If they don’t want to be at Dundalk then that’s okay.”
While a number of supporters have questioned Giovagnoli’s suitability for the job on the basis of indifferent league form since his arrival, Hulsizer said the Italian had done all that was asked of him so far.
“I’m thrilled with what we’ve done this year,” he said.
“I’m not happy with how they’ve played domestically but I gave that coach one directive: to get us to the Europa League group stage. I told him ‘That’s your only job and I don’t care about anything else.’
“Now of course I care about everything else but if €3 million is at stake then you’d be a fool to give that up to try and beat somebody else and be the league champions.
“They are a good team and have had a good year. Do I think Filippo has accomplished his number one goal? Absolutely. It was to get us to the Europa League group stages and he did that.”
Asked if PEAK6 were as committed to improving the club on the field as always, Hulsizer said: “If they have a treble next year then my goal will be to win it and we’ll do all we can to support that in terms of investment.”
The chairman said he had heard nothing in relation to Waterford FC’s appeal against Shane McEleney’s eligibility to play in the final league match against Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Monday last. McEleney, brother of Dundalk star Patrick, was due to face a suspension the week commencing November 9th but was given approval by the FAI to play in the final league game of the season as the game – originally scheduled for November 8th – was pushed back 24 hours to accommodate the Shamrock Rovers v Derry City match which had been twice postponed due to Covid-19 cases.
Finn Harps went on to win the game 1-0 to avoid the relegation play-off with Waterford’s defeat seeing them missing out on a chance to leapfrog Dundalk into third place. While Hulsizer said he had received no communication on Waterford’s appeal as of Sunday night, he said he presumed it had been fruitless given the promotion/relegation play-off took place that afternoon with Longford Town beating Shelbourne to see them promoted back to the Premier Division next season.
Meanwhile, Dundalk are expected to be without top scorer Patrick Hoban for the rest of the campaign with the striker expected to require surgery on the ankle injury sustained in the 2-0 defeat to Sligo Rovers.