Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: IFA public relations handling as shaky as Windsor Park stand

By Jim Gracey

Sometimes, when you witness the public relations car crash of their handling of the Windsor Park and Irish Cup Final twin crises, you'd be forgiven for thinking that football in Northern Ireland flourishes in spite of rather than because of the dear, old Irish FA.

In mitigation, the association is nothing like the basket case by-word for incompetence it once was and the serious Windsor Park stand subsidence that has impacted on the upcoming Romania match and Glentoran-Portadown Cup Final was not of their making.

But they have not handled the fallout very well in a throwback to the bad old days of the wagons being circled around the Windsor Avenue bunker. As an exercise in disaster recovery, the prevaricating IFA response to the Windsor crisis needs to be filed under how not to. There doesn't appear to have been a Plan A, never mind the Plans B or C the football public have been anxious to hear.

The IFA have also missed a trick in not taking the Cup Final to Ulster Rugby's Kingspan stadium whose facilities might have helped land the sponsor the showpiece currently doesn't have.

The impression of making it up as they go along abides to the despair of the fans and frustration of those sections of the media, who have posed the pertinent questions on the Windsor consequences and been stonewalled.

But the fobbing off must finish today when the IFA suits come face to face with can-do Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín with the power to make them or break them in terms of getting Windsor fixed. This Minister does not take can't, won't or no comment for an answer where public money is concerned. Belatedly expect a shift in the IFA's shaky PR foundations by close of play today.

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