The large banner outside Oriel Park last Friday evening said it all as a group of about 150 Dundalk FC fans sent a message to club chairman Bill Hulsizer with the words ‘We want our club back’. Dundalk are currently owned by US Investment firm Peak 6 who bought the club from local businessmen Paul Brown and Andy Connolly at the beginning of 2018. Mike Treacy was brought in as chairman but at the end of 2019 he announced he was stepping down with immediate effect with Peak 6 replacing him with Florida based Bill Hulsizer (father of Peak 6 founder and owner Matt Hulsizer).
Over the past year many fans patience with the current chairman has been wearing thin with some accusing him of interfering in team affairs, employing unqualified coaches and offering club legends derisory contracts which saw the likes of Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, John Mountney and Dane Massey leave for pastures new. Dundalk’s poor start to the season has only exacerbated supporters worries and the result was last Friday’s protest where fans called for the immediate removal of Hulsizer as club chairman. One of the organisers of that protest was lifelong supporter Ben Connolly who revealed that there will be a second protest ahead of the Waterford game on the 11th of June if their concerns weren’t answered.
“We are very happy with how the protest went last Friday evening. The main thing for us was to ensure it was a peaceful protest and we made that loud and clear to everyone who was attending. I have been going to Oriel Park since I was a kid in 2010 and it is heart-breaking to see how bad things have got over the last year or so. I can remember fans going around collecting money in buckets back in 2011 and 2012 to keep the club alive and I don’t want that to happen again,” stated Ben. “Myself and many supporters think it is very clear at this stage that Bill Hulsizer is not fit for purpose to be chairman of our club and some of the decisions he has made over the past year have been baffling to say the least.
“We are not asking for Peak 6 to leave but we are asking them to put in a chairman who can bring this club forward and get us back to where we need to be. Over the last year we have seen some of the best ever players this club leave this club due to Bill’s indecisiveness and as well as that we have lost so many brilliant volunteers and staff who have either left or were asked to leave. There is a disconnect between the club and its supporters and it needs to be fixed. We are fully behind the new supporters club which has been set up and to be honest in hindsight we should have did something about all of this sooner.
“I think last year’s Europa League qualification and FAI Cup win papered over the cracks somewhat but now it is up to us to continue our protest until the message is received by Bill Hulsizer. We will give it a bit of time to see what response we get from the club and the board and if our concerns aren’t listened to the plan is to have a second protest on the 11th of June ahead of the Waterford game. There is a toxic atmosphere in Oriel Park these days because of Bill and we won’t rest until we get our club back,” concluded Ben.
Meanwhile it was a mixed few days on the pitch for Jim Magilton’s side with Friday evening’s excellent 2-1 victory over reigning champions Shamrock Rovers all but forgotten by Monday evening following an embarrassing 5-1 defeat against Bohemians in Dalymount Park.