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Damage to Windsor Park's West Stand throws Euro 2016, Irish Cup and premiership matches into doubt

By Lisa Smyth

Published 01/04/2015

The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
The damaged West Stand at Windsor Park in south Belfast. Picture: Kevin Scott
Club and international matches at Windsor Park in Belfast could be in doubt after the West Stand was sealed off because of possible subsidence. Picture by Arthur Allison
Club and international matches at Windsor Park in Belfast could be in doubt after the West Stand was sealed off because of possible subsidence. Picture by Arthur Allison

Club and international matches at Windsor Park have been thrown into doubt after cracks in the stadium's structure were discovered.

The West Stand - known as the Kop - was sealed off yesterday while engineers carried out an assessment of the damage, thought to have happened overnight.

The IFA was last night quick to play down any suggestion that upcoming games at the stadium may not be able to go ahead as a result of possible subsidence.

Chairman of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, Gary McAllister, said: "It would not be helpful to speculate at this stage, given that we do not know the extent of the damage."

He would not comment on any possible alternative venues for upcoming games.

"It would be better to wait until we have more information before we speculate on what may or may not happen," he said.

Cracks in the structure of the stand were spotted on Tuesday.

The IFA is awaiting a report from structural engineers, although it is not known when this will be completed.

An IFA spokesman said: "The Irish FA became aware on Tuesday morning of some damage having been caused overnight to the West Stand of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

"The association is currently awaiting a report from the structural engineers.

"No further comment will be made at this stage."

Windsor Park is currently undergoing major redevelopment and only the West and North stands, which hold 4,000 and 6,000 spectators respectively, currently remain.

The other two stands have already been demolished as part of the government-funded works, which were scheduled to be completed by November.

Much of the work has been carried out by Newry construction company O'Hare & McGovern.

More than 10,000 spectators were at Windsor Park on Sunday to watch Northern Ireland's 2-1 victory over Finland.

The IFA has said the stadium was assessed as safe before the match kicked off.

However, Linfield and Crusaders are scheduled to meet at Windsor Park on Saturday in a top-of-the-table Irish Premiership clash.

Also, the Irish Cup final between Glentoran and Portadown is planned for May 2 and Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Romania is due to be played on June 13.

Details of the stadium's redevelopment were released in 2012.

The plan will see Windsor Park become an 18,000 all-seater stadium but that work may now be delayed while the cracks are investigated.

Story so far

Windsor Park was first opened in 1905, with a match between Linfield and Glentoran. Most of the current stadium was designed and built in the 1930s to a design by the Scottish architect Archibald Leitch. In February 2013, planning permission for a redevelopment was granted, with the estimated cost of the project around £29.2m, of which £25.2m was government funding. Work finally got under way last May, with the project due to be completed by November.

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