Glens big winners in £36m football boost
Glentoran's dreams of a new stadium are finally about to come true.
The east Belfast club is to benefit to the tune of £10m from a funding pot worth £36m that has been pledged to local football by Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.
With The Oval described in an official report as the most unfit for purpose senior football ground in Northern Ireland, it is not certain the funding will be spent on redevelopment there but Glentoran are adamant they will remain in their east Belfast heartland.
A 12-week consultation process with regard to the distribution of the £36m is already under way, during which the Glens will outline their future plans.
Another site elsewhere in east Belfast is understood to be their preferred option.
A total of £17m has been set aside for upgrades to other stadiums in the Danske Bank Premiership, with a maximum £3m award to any one club.
There will be £3m shared among Championship clubs who successfully apply for funding and the IFA will get their wish for a National Training Centre.
That £3m project will form part of either the new Glentoran stadium development or a proposed move by Crusaders from Seaview to the Giants Park on Belfast Lough foreshore.
All grant recipients will have to come up with 20 per cent partnership funding, in the cash-strapped Glens' case, £2million.
A further £3m is up for grabs for clubs at intermediate and junior level.
Gerard Lawlor, chairman of Cliftonville and the Northern Ireland Football League, gave a cautious welcome to the announcement, however, saying: "It is great that football in Northern Ireland is to be allocated £36m.
"I would hope the allocation process will be open and transparent, leaving no impression of behind closed doors side deals."
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