Athlone Town FC can ac­cess €200,000 grant

Irish Examiner - - News - Ray Managh

Athlone Town soc­cer club can now draw down a €200,000 gov­ern­ment grant for a pro­posed new astroturf train­ing pitch, fol­low­ing an agree­ment in the High Court.

The court had been asked to make an or­der di­rect­ing Athlone Town Sta­dium Ltd, which de­vel­oped the €3mplus, 5,000-seater sta­dium, to con­sent to a charge be­ing cre­ated over Athlone Town AFC’s lease­hold in­ter­est in the prop­erty. While that is­sue was re­solved yes­ter­day by con­sent, be­fore Mr Jus­tice Richard Humphreys, an over­all dis­pute as to own­er­ship of the sta­dium rolls on to a full High Court hear­ing, yet to be listed.

The club had se­cured the sports cap­i­tal grant for the new fa­cil­ity at Lis­sy­wollen, Athlone, but, be­fore it could draw down the funds, the min­is­ter for sport had sought the mak­ing of a charge against the 35-year lease which the club holds from the sta­dium com­pany.

The club, through its sec­re­tary, David Dully, in the over­all pro­ceed­ings, seeks to re­move De­clan Mol­loy, of Gar­ry­nafela, Athlone, Co West­meath, as trustee of Athlone Town Sta­dium Ltd, in which he is a 97% share­holder. The com­pany is a de­fen­dant in the over­all pro­ceed­ings, in which the FAI is a no­tice party.

Dully, in a ground­ing af­fi­davit on be­half of the club, claimed that while the sta­dium com­pany was the le­gal and ben­e­fi­cial owner of de­vel­op­ment, it was to hold ti­tle sub­ject to a trust in favour of the club, which had been founded 130 years ago and was the old­est soc­cer club in the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

Since 1927, its home had been St Mel’s Park, but, un­der UEFA reg­u­la­tions, it could no longer con­tinue play­ing there. The FAI obliged the club to move to a new sta­dium, which would have to meet re­quired cri­te­ria if it was to con­tinue play­ing League of Ire­land foot­ball.

The pur­pose-built sta­dium was un­der­taken in con­junc­tion with the club and the com­mu­nity, on an 8.5-acre site at Lis­sy­wollen. The Na­tional Lot­tery funded de­vel­op­ment costs to the ex­tent of €2.8m, to­gether with gen­er­ous public do­na­tions.

Mr Dully said St Mel’s Park had been swapped with West­meath County Council for the new grounds at Lis­sy­wollen and claimed the ti­tle of the new sta­dium was to be held for the ben­e­fit of the club and the lo­cal com­mu­nity. He alleges that, un­for­tu­nately, the sta­dium com­pany — when reg­is­ter­ing ti­tle — failed to ac­knowl­edge it was hold­ing ti­tle by way of trust for the club.

He said own­er­ship of the sta­dium be­came an is­sue in early 2013, when the ma­jor share­holder, Mr Mol­loy, be­lieved to have do­nated €500,000 to the de­vel­op­ment, claimed a right to be able to sell the sta­dium with­out any re­sort to the club, which then be­gan in­ves­ti­ga­tions to es­tab­lish own­erthe ship. The club claims a deed of trust was ex­e­cuted in April, 2015, in favour of the club, but a dis­agree­ment arose over the lease.

Mr Dully stated that, in an ef­fort to achieve a com­pro­mise, it had been agreed that John De­laney, CEO of the FAI, would act as me­di­a­tor, but terms of set­tle­ment had not been achieved.

In the High Court, yes­ter­day, it was ac­knowl­edged, by a con­sent or­der, that the sta­dium com­pany agreed with­out prej­u­dice to the lease be­ing reg­is­tered and it would not be stopped from dis­put­ing the stand­ing of David Dully to bring the over­all pro­ceed­ings in his own name for, and on be­half of, the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the trust. The over­all pro­ceed­ings re­main ad­journed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.