What was supposed to act as a clarifying press conference ended up asking more questions than it answered, as Dundalk sporting director Jim Magilton confirmed that Shane Keegan, not Filippo Giovagnoli, will have the final say on the team for the upcoming season.
Dundalk have outlined their coaching ticket for the season ahead, with Giovagnoli down as a coach, with 'team manager' Shane Keegan having the last word on team selection going forward.
This comes after the appointment of Giovagnoli and his assistant Giuseppe Rossi last August, with the Italian duo leading Dundalk to the Europa League group stages and the FAI Cup. This was despite Giovagnoli not having a UEFA Pro License which is necessary to manage in the League of Ireland Premier Division and the Europa League.
This led to Dundalk receiving a fine from UEFA due to Giovagnoli's lack of coaching credentials. Afterwards, Keegan took the helm in lieu of Giovagnoli, as the former Wexford and Galway manager holds a Pro Licence.
Unsurprisingly this has stirred a reaction. For context; Giovagnoli was announced as 'head coach' on December 8 but we were told today his title is 'coach.' Yet in majority of the press releases for new signings, he has been the only person at club quoted.
— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) March 9, 2021
The press conference today has led to confusion regarding Giovagnoli's true role within the coaching setup. Keegan was originally brought into the coaching ticket last season to act as Dundalk's Pro Licence holder, with Giovagnoli de facto manager.
It was a similar setup to the previous regime under Vinny Perth, with Perth not holding a Pro Licence despite being the team's manager in all but name. Former Dundalk manager John Gill was drafted in to act as the coaching team's Pro Licence holder and acting manager.
Former Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell also doesn't hold a UEFA Pro Licence, but works in tandem with former Longford Town manager and Pro Licence holder Alan Mathews on the coaching staff of St Patrick's Athletic.
According to Magilton, the press conference was designed with transparency in mind, and that the club's decision on their management setup was in no small part down to the fine they received from UEFA last year.
"UEFA last year, we faced a hefty fine and we took the punishment and we're working very closely with the FAI in terms of our coaching ladder throughout the whole football club from academy to senior staff."
"I'm making moves to try and get him a (Pro Licence) position with any other association.
"Filippo does not pick the team," continued the ex-Northern Ireland international when asked directly, before clarifying he would not be sitting in the dugout himself.
"In all my experience, I picked the team when we won and when we lost the group picked the team. There are lots of consultations in a football club."
Keegan echoed Magilton's sentiments around the coaching staff at Dundalk consulting one another, but maintained that it was him, not Giovagnoli, who would have the final say.
"I don't think there will be an Alex Ferguson type figure who has complete and utter dominance in all decisions and makes all decisions by himself. It will very much be collective decisions.
"As Jim was saying, we're up to a first team coaching staff of about 6 or 7 all in and that's not including Jim, he's tied up in other things but we would be stupid not to pick his brains in terms of the experience he has as well.
"I'll be taking an awful lot of opinions on board when we're trying to make decisions but I suppose, at the end of the day, the buck will stop with me."
It's a strange time at Oriel Park...