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Conor Hoey: ‘Neglected Drogheda’ needs a municipal stadium

A view of SSE Airtricity League
SSE Airtricity League First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-off Series First Leg, 12/10/2018 Drogheda United vs Finn Harps A view of SSE Airtricity League. Photo Credit: @INPHO/James Crombie.

Drogheda United chairman Conor Hoey says the club are exploring other options in their bid to move forward with plans for a new 3,000 seater stadium on the outskirts of the town after they were turned down for significant government funding.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross announced last Monday that €5 million worth of funding was to be allocated to seven large scale projects around the country – but despite an application being filed, money for the new stadium was not forthcoming.

Speaking to LouthNow.ie on Monday afternoon, Hoey remarked that he felt Drogheda had been “neglected” by government for too long and insisted that such a build would have positive societal effects on the wider community, with both full size and smaller artificial pitches also part of the build in what would be a municipal facility.

“It’s very disappointing,” he said, reflecting on the decision. “We will look to appeal once we understand how the scoring was done. We want a Municipal facility, not just a stadium for Drogheda United but for the whole town.”

Hoey said that there was no insistence on the club’s part that the stadium be there’s and there’s alone. “We’re not too precious, we’re willing to share,” he said.

“The issues in Drogheda in recent months are well publicised. It is vital we invest in facilities for kids whether it’s sports, arts, whatever. Drogheda has been neglected, frankly. It’s time national politicians woke up.”

Earlier in the day, in repsonse to Sinn Féin councillor Joanna Byrne, Louth County Council Chief Executive 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.

“Joan and Louth County Council have been a huge support,” Hoey told LouthNow.ie. “We’re hugely grateful for all their (Louth CoCo) assistance. Just getting things started on the site would be fantastic. A new stadium could be one, two, maybe three years down the road. Even if we could build one astroturf pitch that we could use for training would be great, just to get things moving.

On the subject of the FAI, Hoey said, “We’re all well versed in what’s happened with the FAI. It didn’t help.” The Football Association of Ireland were the lead body on the application.

“Finn Harps have also been denied funding up in Ballybofey. That’s terrible for them, they’ve got a half built stadium just lying there. But, we are where we are. We will continue to work with the FAI and Louth County Council, and other parties.”

Drogheda United say there are exploring all other options in regard to how funding can be obtained and the project moved forward. Hoey says that decision makers need to approach it by looking at the bigger picture in a societal sense.

“We have to broaden the thinking on this, beyond football.”

United Park is receiving some touch ups and refurbishments ahead of the 2020 campaign. 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.

“The financial situation is improving. The debt has been halved. We’ve got a great sq

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On Tuesday January 28, Drogheda United host Bohemians in the first annual Vincent Hoey Perpetual match. Kick off is at 7.30pm at United Park. The match will take place annually ahead of the league season in memory of one of the club’s greatest ever servants and former chairman Vincent Hoey, who passed away on October 30 last year aged 84.

 

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