The issue of Drogheda United failing to receive fresh funding for their new stadium was raised at Louth County Council’s January meeting on Monday morning – where Chief Executive Joan Martin admitted that obtaining the major funding required for the build had been built by a blow by ongoing governance issues at the FAI.
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, an avid supporter of the League of Ireland First Division club, asked council officials where they stood on the matter after the club were not granted any first stage funds via Sports Minister Shane Ross and his Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Grants announced last week.
Cllr Byrne described the snub as “a devastating blow for our town, not just for Drogheda Utd but for the wider sporting community in its entirety. She told the meeting that it was time for a “call to arms”, urging all local representatives to push for a positive resolution.
“We are crying out for sporting facilities in this area and this Municipal venue would have been something that everybody could have enjoyed,” she said, in a statement.
“As a lifelong fan of this club, I am not going to stand idly by and watch us be overlooked for much deserved national funding. I have a commitment from Imelda Munster TD to assist in any way she can to progress this project and we will work together to push this issue at local and national level. I urge every candidate in the upcoming General Election to do the same; to make this part of their manifesto and a priority going forward.”
In response, Joan Martin said that council officials had discussed the failure to secure funding for the new stadium. “We already had some small funding before all this bigger picture emerged,” she said, in reference to the FAI having a halt put on government funding they receive and the ongoing vacuum at the top of the organisation.
Martin said that the short term option was the local authority proceeding on their own to provide municipal pitches, part of the overall plan for the new stadium.
“The FAI were our partner on the bigger stadium project,” she said.
In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, the club said, ‘Drogheda United are dismayed at the decision not to award first stage funding for a new stadium under the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Grants. At a time when our town needs community sporting facilities more than ever.
‘We urge all supporters to question all candidates in the General Election about this issue. We need a new stadium for sports in Drogheda. A municipal venue to benefit everyone. We will continue to look at all options for funding, both public and private. Drogheda WILL get a new stadium.’
Drogheda United played their first pre-season friendly of the campaign on Friday night, going down 0-1 to Derry City at United Park They begin their First Division campaign on Saturday February 22 away to Cobh Ramblers.