Belfast Telegraph

Can we build it? Yes we can, insist contractors behind Windsor Park stadium plan

By Steven Beacom

The building contractors for Windsor Park have insisted that they will have the stadium ready for Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifer against Romania in June.

Almost three weeks on from structural problems being discovered in the Kop Stand, those working on the redevelopment of the stadium had their say yesterday.

Cool and calm, Martin Lennon, project panager for O'Hare and McGovern, spoke at a press conference in Belfast, just a short walk from Windsor.

He did so on the back of the IFA declaring that the Kop stand would be demolished and that the Romania game would be played in front of 10,000 fans, with work accelerated on the South and Railway (East) stands to ensure 4,000 seats were made available to make up for the loss of those behind the goal.

Asked simply if this could be done, he said: "We are confident that it will happen. We met with the IFA on Friday. We went through our detailed plan on how this is going to happen. We set out our proposals. They accepted them and that was ratified at their Board meeting.

"We have shipped a number of seats which are in transit at the moment and we are air freighting some more seats. All those seats are the permanent seats for the stadium within the East stand (Railway) and South east corner and some of the South Stand. Seats will be installed to ensure patrons will be safe and the ground will be safe for use.

"The East stand holds in the region of just under 3,000 and we have another 1, 000 seats to accommodate around the remainder of the stadium so our intention is to have the permanent seats there and believe that goal can be achieved."

Quizzed on his confidence about the new work being passed by Health and Officials, he responded: "Health and Safety have to pass it otherwise the game won't go ahead and we are 100% confident they will pass it because we have been through a number of games at the stadium with a number of seating arrangements. We will achieve whatever is required to meet the standard."

Mr Lennon also spoke about the Kop stating that his company would bring the stand down with a 'controlled demolition'.

"The West (Kop) Stand was due for re-development. There were a number of elements of that stand which had to be removed mainly the roof and seating and the upgrade of that stand was always within the contract works. Obviously we have some further works to do within that period of time and we are committed to doing those works with the IFA," he added.

Whether or not O'Hare and McGovern will be conducting the re-build of the Kop stand remains to be seen. That job is likely to go out to tender, though that was not confirmed by IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at a meeting with a DCAL committee yesterday.

Mr Lennon said: "It is our intention re-build that Stand. If we have to tender for it, we will tender for it. Our sole focus at the moment is to make sure the ground is ready and safe for June 13. There are obviously discussions beyond that which we will then engage with the IFA on."

He refused to speculate on how much a new Kop stand would cost, but was more forthcoming when asked if the ground was safe ahead of Northern Ireland's victory over Finland last month. Just two days later the cracks in the Kop's structure were found.

He said: "The authorities that inspected the ground on the Friday before gave a certificate of clearance that the Stand was good to go. There was no issue with the Stand. There was an independent engineering firm employed to do that on behalf of the IFA and that was done on the Friday and there were no issues and the stand was fit for purpose."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph