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Irish League clubs to join forces at Windsor Park meeting in bid to force Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to release £36m Stadia Funding

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Sinn Fein's Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sinn Fein's Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Sinn Fein's Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Northern Ireland Football League is bringing together its member clubs to fight Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey’s move to freeze £36.2m of Sub-Regional Stadium Funding.

Clubs are fuming at the latest delay in the distribution of much-needed government funds but they will now have the opportunity to unite and speak with one loud voice.

Steven Mills, Chief Operating Officer at NIFL, has invited a representative from each club to a special meeting at Windsor Park on Monday, kicking off at 7pm.

Such is the anger felt at clubs across the country, several officials would like to attend and raise their concerns but only one from each club is invited.

There is deep disappointment the game is being used as a political football amid the ongoing failure of the NI Executive to deliver on its funding promises, with a commitment made 11 years ago producing nothing.

Minister Hargey maintains the funding has not been shelved but the proposal needs to be signed off by the now-collapsed Executive.

NIFL chiefs felt they had to act and Monday’s meeting gives clubs an opportunity to raise concerns and form a united approach.

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Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry said: “I’ve seen the correspondence from NIFL and we need to talk about how we are going to move forward. It’s important to discuss what we can do.

“I would love to get all of sport together because there’s not even a guarantee the GAA will get money for Casement Park. We need clarification on how we can move forward together.”

Newry City chairman Jock McLoughlin said: “I’ve received an invitation to the meeting and I hope to attend to share my views.”

City boss Darren Mullen hopes the meeting creates a united front.

“I’m delighted to see it happen,” he said. “We will need support in numbers for this one.”

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter said: “No one has worked harder than Irish League clubs over the last 10 years to improve their facilities. I would hope the Government would act very quickly on this and reverse their decision.

“They need to get the money flowing back into Irish League football because it constantly needs to keep updating the facilities. We are working tirelessly to try to keep improving, but there is a lot that still needs to happen here.”


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