Belfast Telegraph

'Legal and insurance issues' delay Windsor Park Kop report

By Steven Beacom

Irish FA chiefs are hoping to announce developments on the future of the Kop Stand at Windsor Park this week.

Anxious Northern Ireland supporters will say: ABOUT TIME.

It was at the end of last month that cracks in the structure of the Kop Stand were spotted, just two days after Michael O'Neill's men had defeated Finland 2-1 in a vital Euro qualifier with 4,000 of the passionate and vociferous 10,000 crowd in that area of the stadium.

TWO weeks on, the IFA were still waiting last night for a structural engineers' report into the damage while thousands of fans were wondering where the crucial Group F clash with table-toppers Romania on June 13 will be played and if there will be the capacity to accommodate them all.

One source told the Belfast Telegraph a major factor in the hold up is due to 'legal and insurance issues' relating to the damage to the Kop Stand, which is officially known as the West Stand.

With the qualifier against Romania now less than two months away, the IFA know they need details sooner rather than later though have been careful not to place any public pressure on those compiling the report.

Well aware that the situation the IFA find themselves in can be regarded as an emergency circumstance, Uefa, who run the 2016 European Championships, have not imposed a deadline on the powers that be at Windsor Avenue.

That won't stop Uefa reminding the IFA, however, that the mud has to clear shortly.

The IFA still hope to play the qualifier against the Romanians at Windsor, but want to do so with a 10,000 capacity, which would mean temporary seating inside the ground, if as expected the Kop Stand, in its current state, will be unable to house any fans.

Whether or not Health and Safety officials will find that acceptable remains to be seen.

The alternative venue is the Kingspan Stadium, home of Ulster Rugby. To date the IFA have not officially been in touch with Ulster Rugby, but given the 'strong' relationship between the two, there is an underlying feeling that they could work together should Windsor be ruled out.

Belfast Telegraph


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