Dundalk FC investor Corey Woolfolk insists the club can follow in Rosenborg’s footsteps by earning themselves the upgrade of Oriel Park that most supporters crave.
The Louth club’s fans, who met their new American-based owners for the first time on Sunday, heard that while minor upgrades to the dilapidated venue would be made — such as improving the away section — a major revamp would “not be immediate”.
New board members Fred Spencer, Jordan Gardner and chairman Michael Treacy outlined to supporters on Sunday their plans to invest in the playing side of things firstly to help Dundalk become Ireland’s dominant side.
Speaking afterwards, Woolfolk said Rosenborg, who played Stephen Kenny’s side over two legs in Europe last summer, were a club that Dundalk could emulate. The Norwegians have been cited as a blueprint for other teams who hope to build domestic dominance before making a breakthrough in Europe. Between 1995 and 2007, they made the group stages of the Champions League 11 times in 13 years.
This led to huge upgrade works on the Lerkandal Stadion, which many Dundalk fans visited last July. The stadium dates from 1947, but Rosenborg’s European successes allowed it to invest heavily in the facility, with the oldest of the stands dating from 1996 and three others built between 2000 and 2002.
Woolfolk said Dundalk could make similar progress, if they achieved on the field.
“I think there are ways in the long-term to build around the ground to improve the infrastructure, as the guys talked about.
“If you take Rosenborg and the people who went there and saw the facilities there, that wasn’t just built, that was earned. They earned that through their continued qualification in the Champions League and selling players and that kind of thing, so you have to crawl, walk and run.
“As far as the environment here goes, it’s great. I don’t see any reason to move and it would be great to fill it in a little bit.”
The former semi-pro footballer admitted that it was a goal for the new owners to see Dundalk become a dominant force in Ireland.
“We want to be a European club who competes domestically in Ireland, not the other way around and that’s really our goal. We want to be up there every year and we want to go deep in Europe.
“What is the difference between a Rosenborg, a BATE Borisov or ourselves? Not a lot, as you have seen on the pitch last summer. Maybe it’s a couple of players here or a couple of players there. That’s what is really exciting about the opportunity.
“At the end of the day, it’s football and you need a little luck, but all you can do is put yourself in those situations, create the opportunities, have the resources there and let the manager make it happen. Then, when the 11 hit the field, anything can happen.”
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