Belfast Telegraph

Windsor Park's green light for crunch Euro qualifier

By David Young

Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier international against Romania will go ahead this weekend after the troubled Windsor Park stadium received a vital safety certificate from Belfast City Council.

The match had been in doubt after the discovery of structural faults in one of the venue's stands - faults so serious the entire structure had be demolished.

Contractors had been working to ensure the stadium was safe to be used, with almost 250 people working on the site around the clock to get the park ready.

If Michael O'Neill's players win the game against Romania, it will put them at the head of their qualifying group - and will be a giant step toward competing in next summer's Euro 2016 finals in France.

If Northern Ireland qualifies it would be the national team's first major football tournament since the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

At a briefing in the stadium yesterday, IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson remained tight-lipped about the reasons why Windsor Park's West Stand became so unsafe it had to be demolished.

He would say only the matter was still under investigation by the insurers. "In the first instance, we have an insurance policy, and our insurers, Zurich, have been very good. I suspect they will carry on looking down the line to see where the ultimate bill ends up," he said.

It will be several months before work can begin on the new stand to replace the demolished Kop.

November is still the target for completing the original £30m contract to upgrade Windsor Park, the IFA boss said. The upgrade plan involved the construction of two new stands and facilities.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph