Belfast Telegraph

Decision time for IFA

By Steven Beacom

IFA president Raymond Kennedy stated today that the Irish Football Association are facing their biggest decision in 50 years relating to where Northern Ireland will play their home games in the future.

Two options are now on the table.

1) The refurbishment of Windsor Park, the current international home, to a 20,000 capacity.

2) A brand new 25,000 stadium, costing £128 million in private and public money, based in east Belfast. This project is the brainchild of Eastonville Traders, a company based at Donegall Square in Belfast.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the “Danny Blanchflower stadium” based in Sydenham would also host big Ulster rugby matches with plans to build a hotel on site as well as a £10 million training facility.

It is understood that Ulster rugby will come on board if the government invest in the project, though for the IFA there are major decisions to make.

Speaking from a UEFA congress in Copenhagen today, IFA President Kennedy said: “Already we have been involved in a number of meetings about the east Belfast project and still there is a lot of work to be done.

“We must decide what is good for the IFA, good for the game and what’s good for international football.

“Even when the Maze stadium was on the cards, there was talk about a 10,000 stadium being built at Sydenham to host the likes of Northern Ireland under-21 matches.

“Now with the Maze out of the picture the developers are keen to increase the size of the Blanchflower stadium.

“There is also the situation relating to Windsor Park and the possible refurbishment of that stadium.

“And of course Linfield have the long term contract for Northern Ireland games to be played at Windsor.

“We have big decisions to make. Indeed I would say that this is the biggest decision that we have had to make in 50 years because it will determine where Northern Ireland play in the future.

“The Sports Minister Gregory Campbell is keen that we do not delay. There are some more meetings to take place and then the IFA’s Executive board will have the final say.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph