More change at Dun­dalk with Bournemouth link

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - Soccer - EM­MET MALONE Soc­cer Correspondent

League of Ire­land cham­pi­ons Dun­dalk have con­firmed that Mal Bran­ni­gan, the CEO brought in from Eng­land by the club’s new own­ers last year, is to de­part, with an of­fi­cial state­ment is­sued late on Thurs­day evening sug­gest­ing he is leav­ing “to pur­sue other op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

There is no firm news yet on the im­mi­nent in­volve­ment at Oriel Park of Andy Bur­ton, the former Sky re­porter and com­men­ta­tor, al­though it does seem that the one-time Cap­i­tal Ra­dio DJ is to have a role at the club de­spite a cou­ple of lo­cal news out­lets hav­ing to back­track on re­ports that he would be handed the ti­tle “head of re­cruit­ment”.

Bur­ton spent 12 years at Sky but was sus­pended for a time by the broad­caster in 2011 as a re­sult of sex­ist com­ments, made that Jan­uary, about fe­male as­sis­tant ref­eree Sian Massey in an off-air ex­change with Andy Gray and Richard Keys. The pre­sen­ter and an­a­lyst left the com­pany as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, but Bur­ton re­turned to his role be­fore even­tu­ally de­part­ing in De­cem­ber 2017.

For the past 2½ years he has been work­ing with Bournemouth FC as a “se­nior re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant”.

It is un­der­stood the role there is to be ex­panded so as to in­clude some work along sim­i­lar lines for Dun­dalk, where a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion ap­pears to be un­der way in the wake of Stephen Kenny’s de­par­ture and the ap­point­ment of Vinny Perth as his suc­ces­sor.

Con­trol

Perth was adamant this week that he and the rest of the man­age­ment team – John Gill and Ruaidhri Hig­gins – would re­tain com­plete con­trol over who came to the club but ac­knowl­edged that the club’s own­ers, mainly the Chicago-based in­vest­ment firm Peak6, were look­ing to avail of the ex­per­tise at Bournemouth in which they also hold a sig­nif­i­cant stake.

Bur­ton’s role there is said to con­sist of com­pil­ing back­ground and per­son­al­ity re­ports on play­ers iden­ti­fied by the club’s scout­ing and coach­ing staff as po­ten­tial re­cruits.

Speak­ing af­ter his ap­point­ment had been con­firmed, Perth said he was on­board with the own­ers’ pro­pos­als and Bur­ton is be­lieved to have al­ready spent time at Oriel Park where dis­cus­sions took place re­gard­ing his role with the club.

Bran­ni­gan’s de­par­ture, while not ap­pear­ing to come as a huge sur­prise lo­cally, is, on the face of it, slightly at odds with the stated de­sire stated of the Amer­i­can own­ers for con­ti­nu­ity in the wake of last sea­son’s tremen­dous on-field suc­cess.

The club had al­ready been forced to ap­point a new man­ager as a re­sult of Kenny mov­ing on and that process was com­pli­cated by the need to cir­cum­vent the FAI’s stip­u­la­tion that only Pro Li­cence hold­ers are qual­i­fied for the po­si­tion.

Perth doesn’t have one, but with FAI li­cens­ing there is al­ways a way and so Gill has come in to share the work­load and coach­ing ti­tles.

The de­vel­op­ments at Dun­dalk come amid sug­ges­tions that Celtic are about to take a sig­nif­i­cant stake in Sham­rock Rovers.

It is un­der­stood, though, that that story has its roots in very early-stage con­tacts about the pos­si­bil­ity of Der­mot Des­mond – the Bhoys’ main share­holder – be­com­ing per­son­ally in­volved with the Dublin club, some­thing that ap­par­ently re­mains a long way from be­ing agreed even with him.

In the event it even­tu­ally is, there would have to be agree­ment on any change of ex­ist­ing club struc­tures be­tween Rovers’ cur­rent owner – Aus­tralian-based Ir­ish busi­ness­man Ray Wil­son – and the sup­port­ers.

The in­de­pen­dence of the club, in any case, ap­pears not to be an is­sue. Celtic, con­trary to re­ports, ap­par­ently have no di­rect part in the pro­posal.

The idea floated in the orig­i­nal story – that Celtic would have had first re­fusal on Rovers’ young play­ers while the League of Ire­land out­fit would have ac­cess to Celtic ones on loan – would have fit­ted rather neatly into the trend for cross-border part­ner­ships or own­er­ships.

Vinny Perth: re­cently ap­pointed as Stephen Kenny’s suc­ces­sor

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