Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Ben Whitley/INPHO Shelbourne supporters pictured at Friday night's Premier Division fixture against St Patrick's Athletic.
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Shelbourne secure 'significant' investment to aid 'ambitious plans' for the future
The consortium includes figures from Ireland and the USA.

SHELBOURNE FOOTBALL CLUB says it has secured “significant” equity investment from Closebreak, a consortium comprising business figures from Ireland and the USA.

Today’s statement from the League of Ireland club follows a report in the Sunday Times which states that Closebreak is investing a seven-figure sum to take a minority stake.

It also comes on the back of Friday’s announcement regarding the future of Tolka Park, with Dublin City Council set to examine a proposal from the club to buy the Drumcondra venue with a view to transforming it into an upgraded multi-sport stadium.

“This is a very welcome investment which brings finance and new skill sets to Shels, and which validates the ambitious plans we have set out for the club,” Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle said.

“Our goal is to have a positive impact on Irish football – in both sporting and social terms – and we are making good progress.” 

The Closebreak investors include New York-based Chris Farrell, an existing Shelbourne board member who is global head of mergers and acquisitions at Dutch multinational Ahold Delhaize, and Irish businessman Joe Devine, the former Ardmore Studios shareholder. As a result of the investment, Devine has joined the board.

Steven Silver and Gavin Baiera, senior managing directors with US private equity firm Centerbridge Partners, are also involved, as is Justin Breen, head of leveraged finance at London law firm Proskauer Rose. Baiera is to become a board observer.

“We believe that the club is well positioned to achieve success with both the male and female set-up,” said Farrell. “This investment demonstrates our belief in Shelbourne, as well as the prospects and opportunities for Irish football. We are honoured to be a part of this journey.”

In 2021, Shelbourne were crowned Women’s National League champions. The club’s men’s team also won the First Division title, before appointing former Ireland international Damien Duff as manager. On Friday night, Duff’s reign began with a 3-0 defeat at home to St Patrick’s Athletic in their opening game of the 2022 Premier Division campaign.

The new investment “will support the achievement of Shelbourne’s strategic vision and the implementation of our five-year plan” according to the press release issued by the club.

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Shelbourne CEO David O’Connor added: “Being able to introduce business people of this calibre is a tangible example of the changes we are driving at Shels. The addition of Joe and Gavin will further strengthen our already accomplished and highly driven board.

“We have an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers and the most passionate and loyal fan base in the country. I am looking forward to working with all of them as we collectively drive the club forward.”

In 2016, Dublin City Council purchased Tolka Park and Dalymount Park, home of Bohemians. The intention is to house both clubs at a redeveloped Dalymount, with the land at Tolka to be used for housing following the demolition of the football ground.

However, these plans have been opposed by a grassroots campaign titled ‘Save Tolka Park’, which has gained considerable support and media coverage in the last 12 months. 

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