IRFU have 'no interest in running Aviva Stadium at a profit', Dundalk FC chairman claims

Bill Hulsizer said he found it "ironic" that the IRFU were now looking for the taxpayer to bail them out
IRFU have 'no interest in running Aviva Stadium at a profit', Dundalk FC chairman claims

Dundalk FC chairman Bill Hulsizer has hit out at the country's governing body for rugby for seeking Government support

The IRFU have no interest in turning a profit at the Aviva Stadium, according to Dundalk FC chairman Bill Hulsizer.

The 77-year-old has hit out at the country's governing body for rugby for seeking Government support after it was revealed last week that Covid-19 had left a €35m dent in their coffers.

Hulsizer's comments come following a statement from Dundalk's American owners PEAK6 in which they deny recent reports that they had sought to acquire the FAI's stake in the old Lansdowne Road.

Instead, the Chicago-based firm say they had offered to manage the stadium on the FAI's behalf to help turn a profit at a ground which is a large reason for the association's debts standing at €62m at the start of the year.

Hulsizer, father of PEAK6 founder Matt, said he found it "ironic" that the IRFU were now looking for the taxpayer to bail them out rather than try to make money from the Dublin 4 venue.

Hulsizer said: "We were informed that the IRFU had no interest in running the stadium at a profit and were content to have it available for their matches and had no interest in a profit. The letter came from the FAI and in fairness there was no contact with the IRFU.

"I noted recently the IRFU reaching out to the government for financial help because of Covid-19 and find it ironic the utilising of an asset to obtain cash is less acceptable than asking the Irish Government and the Irish taxpayer to bail them out."

In their statement, PEAK6 said they had offered to manage the stadium, which opened following a major €460m redevelopment in 2010, but denied ever trying to buy the FAI's stake in it.

"There is no truth in saying we wanted to acquire Aviva Stadium. We did offer to manage the Stadium.

The FAI is in pretty bad financial straits and has few assets. Aviva Stadium, even prior to this year, was a drain on the resources of the FAI.

This year it will be worse because of Covid-19 although the government is paying the stadium €7m over the next 2 years for the FAI.

"PEAK6 offered to take control of the management of the stadium and help the FAI, IRFU and the Irish taxpayers by making the Aviva profitable, useful, and a beacon to attract travel to the Republic. Unfortunately, they rejected the proposal preferring to limit its use and force the Irish taxpayers to cover losses."

The Chicago-based firm also denied rumours that they had planned to move the club to Dublin following recent reports that they would seek to make the Aviva Stadium Dundalk's new home ground, with plans to transport supporters to games via train.

While this led to concerns from fans that the Americans planned to 'move the franchise', PEAK6 said this was never on the cards although they did admit to requesting to play a number of matches there in the event of upgrade works being carried out at Oriel Park.

"PEAK6’s only ask was for a train from Dundalk to the stadium for Dundalk fans and the number of games to be played there was only going to be 10.

"The reasons were numerous, providing activity in the stadium, providing a place for Dundalk to play during any refurbishing of Oriel park, improving the reach of the League of Ireland, etc.

At no time was it suggested that Dundalk would move to Dublin.

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