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Irish League stadium funding progress expected ‘in short time’ as clubs make plans for £36.2m boost

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Glentoran released their plans for a new stadium at The Oval earlier this year.

Glentoran released their plans for a new stadium at The Oval earlier this year.

Glentoran released their plans for a new stadium at The Oval earlier this year.

Irish League clubs should see progress on the release of over £36m of stadium funding “in the short time ahead”.

That’s according to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, who has said she is “on target” to deliver the sub-regional stadia funding programme for local football before the next Northern Ireland Assembly elections, currently scheduled for May 5 next year.

Clubs have had a long wait for the release of the £36.2m funding that was initially allocated in 2015 but was held up by the collapse of Stormont in January 2017.

In the initial proposals, Glentoran had been set to received £10m of funding for renovations at The Oval.

Earlier this year, the club unveiled plans for a new 6,000 capacity stadium that was expected to cost around that £10m mark.

In June, Coleraine announced plans for a new £7m stadium and training ground that would be built within the next three to five years while Larne have been granted planning permission for a new 2,000 capacity main stand at Inver Park.

"My commitment was that we would see this programme rolled out within this mandate," Minister Hargey told BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra.

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"I'm still on target for doing that. I've been engaging a variety of clubs as recently as last week, so I completely understand the issues and concerns.

"The money is committed to by the Executive and it was in the 'New Decade, New Approach' so we're in the final stages of finalising the refreshment exercise that we did and I will be taking forward proposals very soon."

That ‘refreshment exercise’ is a bid to review the initial proposals and reallocate the funding, with clubs hoping to discover the outcome soon.

"In the middle of considering I had to go out and do a refreshment exercise in the sub-regional stadia because the last consultation was done in 2016," added Hargey.

"We needed to take account of the impact of Covid and how that's had an impact on the sport as well.

"We've done a really good engagement with local clubs, with the NI Football League, with the IFA and with local councils as well and I'm hopeful in the short time ahead that I can come forward with proposals in terms of releasing the £36.2m.

"It's a commitment by the Executive and I'm keen to see that done as soon as possible."


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