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Oval funding would benefit east Belfast community, says Glentoran boss

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The Oval

The Oval

?INPHO/Russell Pritchard/Presse

The Oval

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott insists that the redevelopment of The Oval would benefit Northern Ireland football as a whole as well as giving east Belfast a much needed lift.

McDermott's comments come after Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey revealed that the game here will receive £36.2 million of government money as agreed five years ago by the Northern Ireland Executive through the sub regional stadia programme.

When the Executive collapsed in January 2017, the cash was not released but with Stormont up and running again Hargey says the funds will be made available.

Hargey also pointed out that there was no guarantee the finance would go to the original designated areas, adding that she had ordered a review into where it will end up, suggesting the Irish FA will play a key role in who gets what.

It is understood women's football will be one of the new areas considered when decisions are being made.

Previously, a government consultation had recommended Glentoran receive an investment of £10 million to upgrade The Oval.

McDermott said: "It is extremely important that the facilities in Northern Ireland football are improved. Glentoran is an important part of this puzzle as are other Irish League clubs.

"Having the money to redevelop The Oval would be fantastic and much needed for the community in east Belfast.

"We have a great women's programme at Glentoran and I believe we have the biggest academy for kids in Ireland. We want to enhance those projects to help the community and having better facilities would give us an opportunity to do that.

"We also believe that redeveloping The Oval would benefit Northern Ireland football as a whole. We want to play our part in that too.

"To have a second venue in the country capable of staging big matches is vital for the future of football here and we feel the place to have that is at the Oval.

"The potential is there if they release this money to have a redeveloped and new Oval stadium, along with Windsor Park, which would allow the country to bid for more football tournaments which, in turn, would help the game and inspire kids here."

Apart from the £10 million proposed to upgrade The Oval five years ago, the strands for the £36 million were £17 million for other Premiership sides, with clubs able to apply for up to £3 million to provide "quality football and community facilities".

There was another £3 million available to Championship clubs, the same figure put towards intermediate and junior football and a further £3 million for a national training centre.

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