The Irish Chelsea?
Some big developments in the League of Ireland this week with the news that Dublin club Bohemians are to sell their famous old home, Dalymount Park, to property developer Liam Carroll for €40m as well as a purpose-built 10,000-seater stadium.
Under the proposal, Carroll – who is reputed to be worth in excess of €1.5bn – will pay Bohs approximately €40m, including annual payments of €3.2m until the new stadium is ready, with the balance payable after Bohs leave Dalymount Park.
Early projections forecast that the new stadium, off the M50 near Ballymun, could be built within five years, when the balance of approximately €25m would be paid.
Dalymount has been home to Bohs for the past 105 years. It was also historically the "home of Irish football" holding Irish internationals and FAI Cup finals. However, the ground was hardly developed from the 1940s until the early years of the new century and has fallen out of use as a major venue, except for the home games of Bohemians.
Now this would be a decent amount of money to most English clubs but to a League of Ireland club it is astronomical. All clubs in the top division are already full-time professional but I think wages are probably on a par with English Division 1 and 2.(or lower) As a result, the top clubs in the league have been able to attract players who could be playing in Div 1 and 2 in England. (feels weird to write that but you know I mean the good old-fashioned division 3 and 4)
Since the league switched to a summer format a fwe years ago, the European results have really improved as it gives the League of Ireland teams a chance to play European matches while they are in peak mid-season fitness and their opponents are in pre-season shape. Derry City for example have beaten IFK Gothenburg and hammered Scottish Cup Finalists Gretna 5-1 away in the UEFA Cup so far this year and play Paris St Germain next.
Anyway, I am not sure what this influx of cash to a single club will do for the League of Ireland as a whole but it will be interesting to keep an eye on Bohs over the next 5-10 years. If they can start attracting players of an even higher standard than English Div 1 and 2 and make it through to the Champions League league stages some year (Shelbourne went out at the final hurdle last year to Deportivo) that means even more money down the road. Of course, in true Irish fashion, all the money might just go missing and the club could be broke in 10 years.