Belfast Telegraph

Windsor park stand demolition: Is vast excavation pit a clue to cause of subsidence?

By Adrian Rutherford

This is the photograph which could offer the first clue as to what caused the subsidence crisis at Windsor Park.

It shows a giant hole just feet away from the West Stand, which is now facing demolition.

The 4,000 capacity stand, built in the late 1990s, will be pulled down after cracks appeared in its structure earlier this week.

That will rule the international stadium out of action for the rest of the season.

Yesterday the biggest game of the league season became the first casualty of the developing crisis.

The Linfield v Crusaders fixture was postponed 48 hours before the top-of-the-table clash was due to be played.

The Irish Cup final and Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Romania are now likely to follow.

Meanwhile, the focus is shifting to what caused the problem.

Photographs show the massive excavation just feet away from the stand, which is part of the major development in the area.

Senior Irish FA figures are understood to be pointing the finger at that work playing a role in the crisis.

Belfast City Councillor Jim Rodgers said a full investigation was needed.

"I want to assure the Irish Football Association, Linfield FC and the wider community that I will be asking for this to be investigated," he said.

"This is a major issue and we urgently need answers as to what happened."

The stadium's West Stand, also known as the Kop, and surrounding area, were sealed off on Tuesday amid reports of subsidence and cracks in its structure.

It came less than 48 hours after 4,000 fans packed into it for Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland.

The Irish FA is waiting for the results of a structural engineer's report, which is expected to say whether the stand can be refurbished or flattened entirely.

However, the Belfast Telegraph understands that it will be the latter, and the stand will have to be ripped down.

It will throw a series of major fixtures into doubt.

With the first casualty being tomorrow's crunch clash between Linfield and Crusaders, the north Belfast side's manager Stephen Baxter said it was a problem no-one could have foreseen.

"I think it was inevitable," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When we heard about the damage, and about waiting on expert reports, it didn't sound good.

"It was something that we were prepared for, I knew this was probably going to be the outcome of it.

"It is one of these things we can do nothing about."

Linfield boss Warren Feeney said it was the right call.

"We've had two home games called off. It is frustrating but it is out of our hands, the power is above my head.

"It's with the IFA, the stadium management at Linfield and the NIFL to sort out where we are going to play."

Next month's Irish Cup final between Glentoran and Portadown could now be switched to Ballymena.

Meanwhile, the Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby, is a potential venue for the crucial qualifier against Romania.

What now?

Windsor Park is undergoing major redevelopment and only the west and north stands, which hold 4,000 and 6,000 respectively, remain. The other two stands have been demolished as part of the upgrade, which is due to be completed by November. With the next two Linfield games moved from Windsor Park, the next big scheduled game would have been the Irish Cup final on May 2. The Ballymena Showgrounds has been mooted as a possible alternative venue.

Further Reading

Linfield v Crusaders: League clash postponed due to Windsor Park stadium damage

Kingspan to the rescue if Windsor Park cannot host Irish Cup Final and Euro 2016 fixtures


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