Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

£30m for IFA to quit Windsor

Windsor Park is due to hold all Northern Ireland senior international matches for another 80 years
Windsor Park is due to hold all Northern Ireland senior international matches for another 80 years

The Irish FA could be forced to pay Linfield more than £30million to break the 104-year long agreement for the use of Windsor Park.

The governing body yesterday learned the valuation of the remainder of the contract, which they wish to terminate 80 years early.

And if the IFA is forced to pay Linfield compensation it will then be up them to provide proof that the deal is worth less than that figure.

The high court writ that Linfield served last week in response to the letter sent by the IFA in July, stating that they were giving six-months notice of their wish to terminate the contract, was heard yesterday.

The agreement, which states that all Northern Ireland senior international fixtures will be staged at Windsor Park, was signed in 1984 and entitles the Blues to 15% of the profits from home international games. In recent years that has been worth around £400,000.

The share of future gates receipts, at current prices, has been valued in the region of £12million for the next 80 years. Television revenue is estimated at around £18million while advertising comes in at an estimated £80,000.

The court papers also stated that, 'the final figures will be dependant upon figures and documentation provided by the defendant (the Irish FA)'.

The IFA and Linfield entered into the agreement when the North Stand - which is owned by Windsor Avenue and NOT Windsor Park - was opened in 1984.

In a statement released last night Linfield's Trustees - who are acting on behalf of the club's membership, numbering around 600 people - said that taking such legal action was not how the issue should be sorted out, but there is no other option.

The statement read: "Following the submission of our writ last week; we have, on the advice of our legal team, followed up with a Statement of Claim, served to the High Court.

" We have no intention or desire to stand in the way of the promotion of football, or sport more widely, in Northern Ireland and we would like to reiterate that we do not believe this is the best or most desirable way of resolving these issues.

"However, we do have a responsibility to ensure that our members' interests are protected at all times and we seek nothing more in this action other than an honourable and fair solution."

Linfield are also attempting to win an injunction to stop the IFA from playing any home international fixtures outside of Windsor Park. Their reply to the writ is expected imminently.

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