Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Still waiting on new Windsor Park

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

An artist's impression of how the refurbished Windsor Park will look
An artist's impression of how the refurbished Windsor Park will look

Crusaders and Linfield should have been meeting in the County Antrim Shield final at the Oval tonight.

Look through the inside pages of this paper as hard as you like, but you won't find a preview of the game.

Reason? The match was postponed less than two weeks ago and as yet nobody knows when it's going to be played.

Reason? Well, there are a lot of ins and outs, but it pretty much boils down to Linfield taking umbrage with the match being deemed all-ticket and Glentoran's refusal to allow The Oval to be used if it wasn't ticketed.

The Blues also turned down an opportunity to toss a coin for home advantage.

You may differ from me, but I can't think of any real argument against any of those decisions.

The thing is, it's a decision taken years ago that has led to this situation.

The lack of a totally neutral venue in Northern Ireland football leaves the game in a position where something like this was always possible.

Had we said yes to a stadium being built on the Maze prison site the Crues and Blues could have been playing for the biggest prize in the local game – have you seen the size of the trophy? – with enough seats to accommodate everyone without the need for tickets.

And it's within the County Antrim FA's jurisdiction too!

Instead, almost five years after those plans were shelved, we're still waiting for work to start on the rebuilding of Windsor Park while the local game tries to rebuild its reputation.