Belfast Telegraph

Consultation opens on £36m development of Northern Ireland football

Sport Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has opened a consultation exercise on a major multi-million pound development of Northern Ireland football hailing it a "good day" for the sport.

The minister is seeking the public's views on how a £36million investment package should be spent on the local game.

The consultation document published today is based on Executive agreed priorities and includes proposals for the funding of projects across five separate strands.

Around £10m has been set aside to make large stadia safer, another £17m has been earmarked for community stadia and £3m has been made available to make smaller grounds safer.

In addition, funding of around £3m could be made available for a national training centre and another £3m for the development of sporting centres at an intermediate and junior levels.

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Speaking in the Assembly, the minister urged anyone with an interest in the game to have their say.

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “The Executive agreed in March 2011 that £36million should be allocated for football stadia development at sub-regional level and that this should be taken forward as a priority area of spend in the next Comprehensive Spending Review period.

“The Executive’s agreement was informed by input from the sector in 2011 and the consultation will set out the Executive agreed priorities. I understand that further thinking has been developed since then. I would encourage all interested parties to fully engage and submit consultation responses. I will consider all responses before opening the final Programme for applications.

“This is a good day for football in the north.

"The last decade or so has witnessed a marked improvement in the enhancement of stadia following years of historic underinvestment and it is important that a broad range of clubs have the opportunity to benefit.

“I’m aware that football clubs have waited patiently for this day and I ask them and the wider public to have their say. I want this consultation to be meaningful and inclusive as the responses I receive will help formulate thinking and shape the criteria ahead of the commencement of the application process next year.”

The minister concluded by saying that successful delivery of the programme will have significant benefits for the football and wider community.

She said: “I am committed to the creation of a confident, informed and healthy society and the Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer will provide the opportunity for clubs to develop their facilities as a means of improving the sustainability and viability of the game locally.

"I look forward to progressing this in the month ahead.”

The consultation period runs until Monday 22 February 2016 and full details on the proposals and on how to respond can be found here.

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