Throughout Dundalk's season there was always an underlying narrative which naturally did not take precedence over their historic European run but would have had a major impact on the future of the club nevertheless.
Due to the long and arduous dispute between Dundalk and former owner, Gerry Matthews, there was a fear that the club would risk losing their licence to play in Oriel Park as they would not be able to confirm that Oriel Park would be available throughout the entirety of the 2017 season.
According to an interview with the Irish Times earlier this year, Matthews had no ambition to stop Dundalk from playing their football at Oriel. Yet the former owner wanted to recuperate a share of the money to which he invested while in control of the Louth club.
The Youth Development Centre which was built on the location of the stadium remained a crucial talking point throughout the proceedings to which Matthews stated that 'I'm going to have to demolish it to try and get back some of the money I put into it.'
However it did not come to such a conclusion as the respective parties reached an agreement.
Evidently, there is no love lost between Matthews and the Lilywhites as the club released an official statement on their website;
In this planned statement, we stated that the agreement with Mr Matthews was based on “genuine goodwill".
While we wished to put a positive note on this agreement, given Mr Matthews behaviour over the years repeatedly making inaccurate statements in the press, interfering with the licensing process, wrongly claiming that money was owed to him and, even last week, attempting to portray this agreement as the settlement of a debt to him – we are compelled to state that, unfortunately, there was absolutely no goodwill between Dundalk Football Club and Mr Matthews at the conclusion of this process
The club have also made a full settlement with Louth County Council for the money that Mr Matthews owed to them for outstanding planning levy charges...We are also undertaking a feasibility study on how we can make best use of the YDC building for the good of our club and community.
Dundalk have released a statement announcing that unfortunately they've been been lumped with Oriel Park for the foreseeable future.
— Dublin J. Derby Facts (@dubderbyfacts) November 21, 2016
As for the dreaded 'plastic pitch' at Oriel Park? Thankfully, it looks like we have seen the last of it;
Dundalk FC have already been visited by pitch specialists in order to move forward with a new playing surface that we hope will be in place for the start of the 2017 season.
Everybody at the club is looking forward to the future as we attempt to build on the incredible progress we have made over the past four years.
A strong statement. Bottom line = bye bye plastic pitch. https://t.co/n0UKw8Luxx
— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) November 21, 2016