IFA President Kennedy’s key role in Windsor redevelopment
Outgoing President Raymond Kennedy was a prime mover in bringing about a more favourable relationship between Linfield and the Irish FA over the future of the Windsor Park stadium.
A club spokesman paid tribute to Kennedy (below) for the work he has done in recent weeks in reaching a stage where Linfield have agreed to break the current contract with the IFA in return for a proposed £30m development of the stadium.
“It is unfortunte that he finds himself in a beleagured position but he played a vital role in bringing Linfield and the IFA together and getting us to where we are now,” said the spokesman.
“There are still things to be discussed but we have come a long way from the days when the parties were at loggerheads and losing money on legal bills over the existing contract.
“Meetings have been going on for more that two years but certainly Raymond’s contribution in the last two to three months was highly significant.
“He was easier to deal with than others and was pragmatic in his approach while at the same time fighting the IFA’s corner.”
Kennedy was on his way back from South Africa to hold a press conference last Saturday following the votes by the Linfield membership to agree the outline plan, but it had to be postponed because of the issue surrounding his presidencey following the highly critical report from Sport NI over his part in the IFA paying out more than £1/2m in an out-of-court settlement to former chief executive Howard Wells.
The Linfield member continued: “I would like to give Raymond credit for what he has done in this important step forward for Windsor Park and how he focused on bridging the gap that was there between the club and the IFA.
“He may have made mistakes and paid for them, but I have known him a long time and travelled with him and, as I see it, he has always tried to do his best for football.”
Work has already started on refurbishing the North Stand at Windsor and carrying out other health and safety measures such as egress on to the pitch and sight lines from the lower tier of the stand at a total cost of £400,000, 85% of which has come from Sport Northern Ireland with Linfield and the IFA providing the rest.