Dundalk's owners offered FAI and IRFU ‘a number between €20-30m’ to run Aviva Stadium

Matt Hulsizer: The proposal would 'cover losses for the foreseeable future'
Dundalk's owners offered FAI and IRFU ‘a number between €20-30m’ to run Aviva Stadium

Dundalk owners Peak6 have revealed that the FAI and IRFU rejected a possible cash injection of up to €30m earlier this year.

Matt Hulsizer, co-founder of the American investment group which took control of the League of Ireland club at the start of 2018, has confirmed that his firm offered “between €20-30m” to run the management company which operates Aviva Stadium.

New Stadium DAC is the joint partnership between the FAI and IRFU with sole responsibility for the Dublin venue, and while Hulsizer insisted that Peak6 did not offer to buy a stake in the stadium outright, they were prepared to absolve the two associations of their losses relating to the venue, with the proposal of a 50/50 split on any future profits they were able to deliver.

“We talked about a number between €20-30m to take over the management company, that would cover losses for the foreseeable future. That’s pretty meaningful, and if there were profits we said we would split it. They don’t want that,” Hulsizer said.

“The IRFU and FAI will not make money [on Aviva Stadium]. They will lose money. We said we’ll absolve them of all losses, that we’ll run it (Aviva Stadium). We’ll sell packages, bring in tourism, we would bring concerts.

We would sell suites if we had planned events. It’s easier to sell suites when you have more events. We know this. We’ve done it, and if we’re wrong then there would be no skin off the IRFU and FAI’s noses.

“If we do make money, they’re getting half the profits they wouldn’t have got before. We’ve tried to do our part to help. The one big thing that is hanging over sport in Ireland, at least in the FAI’s case, is the Aviva. They have a big bill that they don’t have enough events to pay for. We thought we had a good solution.”

Accounts filed last year by New Stadium DAC showed that €2m was paid in dividends to its shareholders, the IRFU and FAI.

New Stadium DAC reported a pre-tax loss of €3.3m, a five per cent increase on the losses recorded in 2017.

In January, the FAI secured a government-backed rescue package worth more than €30m, after it was revealed the association’s debts stood at over €60m.

The State provided an initial €19.2m for enhanced grants and an interest-free loan, while more than €10m was provided by way of an increase in support from Uefa, as well as a restructuring of the FAI’s bank debt.

The FAI’s Sport Ireland grant was increased to €6m over the next four years while a repayable grant worth €7.63m will be paid to New Stadium DAC over the next three years.

The IRFU, meanwhile, admitted last month that such was the impact of Covid-19 the professional game in his country might not be able to continue beyond next year.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Covid-19 Response Committee, chief executive Phil Browne revealed that Irish Rugby’s losses as a result of coronavirus were expected to be upwards of €30m, and that their cash surplus of €28m from June of this year was wiped out with a debt of €10m expected in June 2021.

Neither the FAI or IRFU responded to requests for comment.

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