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Huge repair bill leaves clubs sweating on crucial funding

By Graham Luney

Irish League clubs fear much needed grant aid could disappear down the plughole now that the Irish FA is faced with a sinking Kop Stand at Windsor Park.

The West Stand needs to be demolished and replaced and the bill for that repair job will be massive - possibly as much as £10million.

Transforming Windsor Park into a stadium that is capable of hosting international and domestic matches again has now become the number one priority of football chiefs. Cash-strapped Irish League clubs, always in need of vital financial assistance to enhance ground facilties, will now be concerned they won't get their hands on essential funds.

One club source commented: "The IFA are more likely to determine that the needs of the game require their national stadium to be complete before other clubs can receive funding.

"There could be political influences in a lot of the proposed funding schemes and there is the potential for further delays going forward."

Glentoran have been hungry to leave the Oval and move to a new home in east Belfast for several years but the club has also been fire-fighting on the financial front, determined to balance the books.

It's widely accepted that the club's long-term future cannot be safeguarded unless they move house.

Glens director of football Roy Coyle said: "The club was about 24 hours away from going into administration. In fairness, people have supported the club both financially and by attending matches. Supporters have stayed loyal.

"I do know the board are trying their upmost to secure a new stadium. As to where or when I have no idea."

Meanwhile, the race for European place hots up in the Danske Bank Premiership this afternoon and there's plenty at stake at Solitude where Portadown are the visitors.

The Irish Cup finalists are level on points with the Reds and there are huge financial rewards available to clubs on the European stage.

Cliftonville competed in the Champions League earlier this season and it would a tragic twist of fate if they missed out on continental action this summer.

Ports defender Ross Redman said: "Cliftonville and Warrenpoint Town are the two teams we have struggled to take points off and we certainly need to win more games and cut down on the draws.

"Third position is where we want to be and we would love to push for the runner-up spot as well.

"Crusaders have ran away with it this year so there is no pressure on us in terms of the title race but we do want to pin down that European spot. There was a period around Christmas time when we let things slip badly but we now have the chance to finish the season on a massive high."

Belfast Telegraph


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