The latest from our sports department..

Would it be too much to expect the civil servants at the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure not to spend their time issuing statements on behalf of someone who has yet to take office? And on a related note.. Sinn Féin’s Paul Butler and Raymond McCartney have stated that “Sinn Fein will not agree to plans to build any stadium until we get agreement to open up the jail as a visitor attraction with an iconic building built to the highest international standards.” Some progress though, at least Mr Butler seems to have stopped making ludicrous and offensive comparisons like “Long Kesh is on a standing with Robben Island, Auschwitz and the Berlin Wall..” Now, he just wants the site developed “as a visitor attraction similar to Kilmainham Jail in Dublin and Robben Island in South Africa.” – although he also wants those proposals “being given as equal an importance as any plans to have a stadium built there.”

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  • George

    GavBelfast,
    I have made no attempts to mask anything. You brought up the concept of fairness and I was merely trying to bring out figures that up until now haven’t been in the debate and which I thought could be helpful and seeing what would be fair.

    From what I can see, the IFA and football has received in the region of 15 million from government and Lottery funding in recent years while GAA and Gaelic sport has received a similar amount.

    Rugby it seems is the poor relation, getting less than hockey even.

    That, unless someone can show otherwise, seems to be the situation regarding government funding of sport in Northern Ireland.

    So, if anybody should be getting more money it’s the IRFU not the IFA. That would be fair.

    But as I said the big story here is how little funding there is for sport. Most of it is coming from the idiot tax that is the National Lottery.

    In the Republic, the government’s sport budget for 2007 is 295 million euros compared to just 17 million 10 years ago.

    Having said all that, I make no bones of the fact that I hold the ruling IFA (and FAI) in extremely low regard.

    I think their respective incompetence has stunted the growth of football on this island for generations.

    The IFA like the FAI want the taxpayer to pay for a stadium for them because in the last 80 years they haven’t managed to put enough money aside to pay for a home of their own.

    400 million would pay for a lot of swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball arenas and all-weather pitches.

  • George

    Realist,
    is the 8 million still on the table or is it gone for good? (adds grist to my incompetence mill)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    I understand that soccer fans will lobby according to their own interests, and that’s fair enough as far as it goes. But that should not mean that their arguments should be completely divorced from any sense of the needs of the other sports. That is to say, it’s simply not good enough to argue for something, like a minimalist capacity, which would have the effect of rendering the stadium useless to other codes. That debate simply isn’t one that’s dealing with the reality that this new stadium has to be for all, or it won’t happen. And that means soccer, GAA and rugby lobbyists all have to think about the needs of the other codes, whilst naturally optimising conditions for their own.

    “I still find it hard to get my head around the cries of “exclusion” from GAA members/fans in relation to the new stadium, when this rule of exclusion is written into the GAA Rule Book.”

    The GAA is entitled to make its own decisions about how its grounds are used. So is the IFA. So is the IRFU. But neither the GAA, IFA or IRFU is entitled to argue for the exclusion (de facto or de jure) of anyone, from a publicly-owned facility. The GAA’s Rule 42, which concerns the GAA’s use of its own property, is totally irrelevant to this issue.

    “For how many games a season would the GAA be filling the 42,000 capacity at the Maze?”

    I’d say they’d be hoping to get 30K or more perhaps ten times a year, with perhaps three or four capacity sell-outs.

  • Realist

    “is the 8 million still on the table or is it gone for good?”

    George,

    That’s exactly the £8M question that many of us are asking of the IFA!

    And – if it has gone for good, how/why did the IFA cock it up.

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “that debate simply isn’t one that’s dealing with the reality that this new stadium has to be for all, or it won’t happen”

    Maybe it just won’t happen.

    Different sports, different needs.

    Northern Ireland fans will continue to lobby for what’s best for Northern Irish football.

    I expect other sports to do the same.

    “I’d say they’d be hoping to get 30K or more perhaps ten times a year, with perhaps three or four capacity sell-outs”

    On that basis,the GAA will be paying the lion’s share of the rent.

    What games do you expect to attract those crowds at the Maze?

    Doesn’t some other GAA venue not loose out in consequence?

    Isn’t the truth that the GAA don’t need the Maze, but would sure welcome some additional HMG funding to improve existing facilities?

  • poodler

    Can you come up with any evidence at all that the IFA are “content” that their logo is used by loyalists, & if so, what, in your estimation, would this level of contentment be?

    cromwell

    The fact that the IFA have taken no action against the illegal counterfeiting of its property by loyalist terrorists(who are selling the goods openly online & from an east Belfast shop, is evidence enough of their ease.

    As you tubes said

    “Funny how NI fans are opposed to the Maze Stadium because it will incorporate a ‘shrine to terrorists’ yet on the other hand they are quite happy to purchase OWC flags from a shop selling a multitude of paraphenalia glorifying terrorists.”

    If n.i supporters are funding loyalist terrorism by purchasing these owc & ifa goods, they are hardly encouraging a reasoned evaluation of their ‘no sectarianism’ campaign.

    It would be encouraging if supporters were to call for a boycott of the illegal paramilitary merchandise and encourage their association to take action against the counterfeiters.

    Perhaps a thread condemning the paramilitary fund raising exercise on your wee forum might be a start.

    poodler(c)

  • crystal maze

    ‘Perhaps a thread condemning the paramilitary fund raising exercise on your wee forum might be a start’

    Don’t hold your breath on that one Poodler…..

  • Realist

    “If n.i supporters are funding loyalist terrorism by purchasing these owc & ifa goods”

    Would you like to expand on that poodler?

    The only goods OWC (as in the fans’ website) sell, are available to view on the merchandising section of the site – these funds are solely used to assist with the costs of running the site.

    If you are suggested that the OWC site (seemingly your favourite website) merchandise sales are used to fund loyalist paramilitaries in any shape or form, I’m quite sure the solicitor of the owner of the site will be very interested to see the basis of your allegation.

    If you have any shred of evidence of any “official” IFA products being used to fund loyalist paramilitaries, I would urge you to contact the IFA without delay -ask for Geoff Wilson.

    I’m sure he will be very interested in the allegation.

    “and encourage their association to take action against the counterfeiters”

    Absolutely – something which the IFA have acted upon.

    Perhaps you couldn’t find those discussions on OWC?

    PS. Are there any of those “Hunger Striker Memorial” GAA shirts still available?

    Every time you point the finger…..

  • crystal maze

    told you, didn’t I, Poodler?

  • Realist

    crystal maze,

    One of the great things about OWC is that trolls don’t get to see the really juicy bits on it – that costs money 🙂

    For the record, take it as read that I, for one, condemn totally ANY illegal paramiltary fundraising activity.

    As previously stated, the IFA are well aware of counterfeiting issues, and are acting accordingly.

  • poodler

    realist

    I suggest you actually READ my post

    What are your views on the owc & ifa merchandise being sold by paramilitaries in Belfast like the ‘our wee country’ flags below

    http://www.unionjackshop.com/product_info.php?id=293
    http://www.unionjackshop.com/product_info.php?id=294

    Would you call on all n.i supporters to boycott the goods sold by this site ?

    Funding terrorism through the sale of these n.i & owc goods is hardly progressive and i’m sure you would not want to see a repeat of last years embarassing situation when fans erected n.i football flags alongside those of the uff & uvf in loyalist areas.

    If the ifa have acted opon it why are loads of goods with the ifa logo on it still on sale (as per link above)

    poodler(c)

  • Realist

    Back to the Maze issue – Mr Hanson & Co will be coming in for some “difficult” questions in Westminster in the weeks ahead.

    My crystal ball tells me that the waffle we’ve been fed to date about the “economics” of the proposal, isn’t going to fool the masses anymore – it’ll require some detail on the hard facts now.

    Spread on the “err”, “umms” etc from Hanson anyone?

    Peter Robinson will be most interested – a prudent man with the cash!

  • alan mac

    I notice that Realist is one of the regular contributors who states that the term ‘beggars’ is not used as a racist/sectarian insult against people from the Irish Republic per se but rather reflects their views that the Irish soccer team is adept at ‘begging’ players to join their team.

    If this is the case, why does one of yesterday’s OWC Fans Site contributors castigate a snooker player, Ken Doherty, as a ‘beggar’ ?
    For what is Doherty guilty of begging? A loan of the chalk?
    This reference, the fact that other posters did not condemn it and indeed the failure of the site’s moderators to remove it might suggest that NI fans use the terms ‘beggars’ in a casually racist and sectarian manner.
    I hope that this isn’t the case because, if so,it would rather goes against their ‘kick sectarianism out of fooball’ campaign.

    This coupled with the shameful inertia in campaigning on their fans site against those dubious sources that profit from selling illicit OWC/IFA merchandise gives some significant mileage to their critics.

  • Realist

    poodle,

    “What are your views on the owc & ifa merchandise being sold by paramilitaries in Belfast like the ‘our wee country’ flags below”

    Have you any evidence to suggest that the items are being sold by paramilitaries, in order to raise funds for paramilitary organisations?

    “Would you call on all n.i supporters to boycott the goods sold by this site ?”

    I would certainly call on anyone (including NI fans) to boycott anything that raises funds for any paramilitary organisation.

    “Funding terrorism through the sale of these n.i & owc goods is hardly progressive”

    I agree totally that funding terrorism is “hardly progressive”.

    You insist that these goods are funding terrorism – you have yet to provide any shred of evidence that that is the case.

    I challenge you now to provide such evidence.

    “i’m sure you would not want to see a repeat of last years embarassing situation when fans erected n.i football flags alongside those of the uff & uvf in loyalist areas”

    I’m sure we’ll see the same again this summer.

    If people want to produce flags that are not in breach of any copyright (as neither of your examples are), sell them legitimately, it’s not for me to determine who purchases them, and where they are erected.

    The design of both flags is excellent – I like them a lot.

    “If the ifa have acted opon it why are loads of goods with the ifa logo on it still on sale (as per link above”

    The IFA logo does not appear on either of the two examples you give – not the “official” IFA logo anyway, which is now subject to copyright.

    The manufacturers of the flags have been very clever in that regard – and have not broken any laws in their design.

    Now, we can probably agree that some supporters of loyalist paramilitary organisations exist amongst the Northern Ireland fanbase – although this is not compulsary, as some Catholic/Nationalist Northern Ireland fans have discovered.

    Can we similarly agree that supporters of republican paramilitary organisations exist amongst the fanbases of the ROI, Celtic, Cliftonville, the GAA…?

    That being the case – what exactly is your point?

  • Realist

    alan mac,

    “This coupled with the shameful inertia in campaigning on their fans site against those dubious sources that profit from selling illicit OWC/IFA merchandise gives some significant mileage to their critics”

    Two facts:

    The only IFA merchandise sold is via the IFA and their “official” merchandisers.

    The only OWC (as in the fans’ website) merchandise sold, is via the OWC website – you can view the said merchandise via the link on the homepage of the site.

    The OWC website does not have copyright on the term “Our Wee Country” – I’m sure you are well aware of the origins of the expression.

    So, in summary, the merchandise referred to in the links previously posted is neither OWC (as in the fans’ website), nor IFA mechandise.

    Neither the IFA, nor OWC (as in the fans’ website) make a brass penny on either of the items highlighted – they havenothing whatsoever to do with the merchandise.

    Regarding Ken Doherty, I note that Joe Swail (nationalist, from the Markets) is congratulated on his success yesterday on OWC – I wonder why that is?

    Feel free to contact Mr Breen at the Sunday Life regarding your “find” (are there any threads you don’t read, apart from the juicy ones we don’t allow trolls to see?)- he’ll maybe want to follow up his OWC “exclusive” of a couple of years ago – we could be doing with another chuckle, and always welcome the new members that such coverage brings…darned good for our merchandise sales figures too 🙂

  • alan mac

    But Realist, you have failed to explain why Doherty has been described as a ‘beggar’, why the use of this offensive description has not been condemned by other posters (including your esteemed self) and why the site’s moderators have not removed this insulting description.
    Could you not use your influence as a paying customer of the OWC site to lobby for the removal of this racist desription of Doherty.
    Go for it!-;Let’s kick racism out of football’ starting with your own Fans site.

  • Realist

    alan mac,

    Some things are done privately on OWC.

    Some of us “huns” don’t do public floggings for the benefit of trolls.

    Why don’t you post your thoughts on the matter on OWC? God knows, you read it enough.

    I’ll direct you to a “sporting” site where the use of the racist/sectarian? term “hun” is frequently used – once I see you acting on there as you preach here, I’ll afford you some credability for your moralistic stance.

    Not that it “offends” me, I hasten to add.

    PS. In what way exactly is the term “beggar” racist, in your opinion?

    What “race” are you talking about?

    “Go for it!-;Let’s kick racism out of football’ starting with your own Fans site”

    Yes – “go for it”! I’ll look out for your posts on OWC.

  • Pass the Point

    Is this the thread in question?
    http://ourweecountry.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=17860&st=0

    The lad from the Markets seems to be getting a lot of praise from the er….loyalist bigots.

    “Superb win by Mark on his Crucible debut. Hopefully Joe Swail can get past Mark Williams tonight, potential all OWC final”

    “Great to see Mark putting Doherty out. Good luck to him (and Joe Swail) in the rest of the tournament.”

    “What a brilliant win by Joe Swail edging out Williams 10-9 and winning the last two frames”

  • poodler

    “The design of both flags is excellent – I like them a lot.”

    Interesting that you have no issues with those who glorify mass murderers from the sale of their products.

    Do you like the designs for the uff,uvf & rhc flags ?

    Its a bit rich being critical of other organisations when you have no problems with owc/ifa goods being produced and sold by the scum who wallow in the deaths of thousands of Protestants & Catholics over the last 35 years.

    http://www.unionjackshop.com/product_info.php?id=198

    Do you honestly see no issues with n.i supporters purchasing these goods from this uvf/uff product outlet ?

    poodler(c)

  • DK

    Poodler,

    I see that the Union Jack shop seems to sell flags of all the loyalist paramilitaries, as well as other ones (israel, and Canada are some).

    So does this make Canadians all sectarian bigots who support the loyalists if some Canadian buys a flag there? You seem to suggest that all NI fans are bigots if one buys an OWC flags in that shop.

    And exactly which loyalist organisation profits from the sales of the flags in the Union Jack shop when it sells all sorts? Could it be, perhaps, that the owner is making the money. As the shops own website says: “DISCLAIMER: The Union Jack Shop sells a wide selection of paramilitary merchandise. This does not necessarily mean that the shop endorses the activities of any of these organisations.”

  • GavBelfast

    George / Billy Pilgrim,

    You know, a lot of the difficulties of what is intended coming across properly and then being interpreted in a particular just don’t happen in discussions over a pint. It would also avoid sock-puppets as they would be excluded by the door policy or evicted!

    George – I didn’t mean you were deliberately masking anything, just that not including lottery money wasn’t the whole picture.

    Billy – I asked a question about GAA funding, it wasn’t a rhetorical question, I really didn’t know the answer. I know more now, thanks to your reply.

    Others have made subsequent interesting points, I’ll leave it there for tonight. Cheers.

  • kensei

    “As the shops own website says: “DISCLAIMER: The Union Jack Shop sells a wide selection of paramilitary merchandise. This does not necessarily mean that the shop endorses the activities of any of these organisations.””

    You are fucking shitting me that 1. this is actually real 2. could possibly be taken at all seriously.

    What people just buy it because they like the aesthetics?

  • toby

    “This does not necessarily mean that the shop endorses the activities of any of these organisations.”

    DK

    Thats the strangest disclaimer i’ve ever seen.

    “not necessarily”

  • greg

    Pretty bad taste that the Northern Ireland supporters on this site have no issues purchasing their gear from a shop that glorifies & supports terrorism.

  • BP1078

    poodler-greg-toby-alan mac-tony,

    I think you should write a letter to the Tele about this matter and all your other problems with NI fans-think of it as a cheap form of therapy. Please don’t leave out any of your allegations about the IFA or Northern Ireland fans that you’ve put down on here through the months (and why would you.. they’re all true aren’t they?)

    Oh yeah, and better sort yourself out a solicitor soonish.

  • Ziznivy

    I’ve bought my Liverpool top from a ropy fella in Nutts Corner market, it doesn’t mean I endorse his views / merchandise / activities.

  • Cromwell

    Ziznivy,

    I endorse his views wholeheartedly, he told me some mug bought a Liverpool top off him & that they were sh*te last night!!!

  • willowfield

    USA

    1. The M1 is indeed a major road providing access to the proposed prison site from the East and West. Just add access to the stadium as part of the project.

    Indeed: as I said one road in and one road out. Imagine the horrific congestion. Belfast, on the other hand, is the transport hub of NI.

    And why build an out-of-town stadium when we are trying to cut down unnecessary car journeys?

    One of the benefits of the prison proposal is that it would also provide jobs and stimulate economic activity outside of Belfast.

    Actually, expert studies show that for stadiums to be economically viable they must be in city centres where they will boost the economy. Out-of-town stadiums are not economically viable.

    Plus the prison site is free land.

    Ormeau Park is being offered for free by Belfast City Council.

    IJP

    My only quibble with NI fans on this issue is that they are not producing any realistic alternative. That a City Centre (by “City” I mean Belfast) stadium is preferable is undisputed. But is it affordable within timescale?

    Within what time scale?

    Billy Pilgrim

    Why build a small stadium, shrink-wrapped to fit soccer’s lack of ambition? Why not build a 45,000 stadium that GAA could use for big games, that rugby could use for internationals, and that soccer could view as a challenge, as a yardstick for the progress of the game here?

    Because there’s no need and it would be stupid from football’s POV. Playing in a soulless half-empty (even with 20,000+ fans) stadium in the hope that one day it might be filled would be a monstrously stupid thing to do.

    Look, it’s simple: I can understand why soccer fans value the fabled “atmosphere” at Windsor, but that isn’t a good enough reason to keep the fenians out of a new stadium.

    No-one’s interested in keeping “fenians” (or GAA) out of a new stadium for the sectarian reasons tp which you shamefully allude. The reality, however, is that the Maze stadium is a stadium designed for the needs of GAA and in a totally unsuitable location. It does not meet the needs of football, therefore it is not in football’s interests to support it.

    Why don’t the GAA agree to a 25,000 stadium in Belfast? Presumably because it’s not in their interests – fair enough, that is their decision. Are they “sectarian” for demanding a stadium to meet their needs? If not, then why is football sectarian for demanding a stadium to meet its needs?

    I can’t see that anyone is blackmailing anyone.

    Then you are blind. The Government is saying “it’s the Maze or nothing”.

    You could pour concrete and create huge car parks either side of the M1 fairly cheaply, and only have to build off-ramps from the motorway to them.

    Are you for real? It’s 2007 and your proposing the creation of “huge car parks” as a transport solution.

  • kyle

    “Indeed: as I said one road in and one road out. Imagine the horrific congestion. Belfast, on the other hand, is the transport hub of NI.”

    willowfield

    You are joking, Belfast can’t survive an accident on the M2 without closing the whole city for hours.

    “Ormeau Park is being offered for free by Belfast City Council.”

    The rate payers of Belfast own the land & let’s not forget that it is being given free to a private contractor who has shown a total inability to submit a business plan and any detailed plans + will be given ‘free of charge’ on of the few remaining laganside zones for yet more expensive apartment blocks (Maysfield L.C site). Worth a hell of a lot more than the land on the Ormeau Embankment.

    “Because there’s no need and it would be stupid from football’s POV. Playing in a soulless half-empty (even with 20,000+ fans) stadium in the hope that one day it might be filled would be a monstrously stupid thing to do.”

    It’s not the sporting community in the north’s fault that football is so poorly supported.

    “It does not meet the needs of football, therefore it is not in football’s interests to support it.”

    If you are being honest its all to do with politics and the up front politics of football supporters.

    “Are you for real? It’s 2007 and your proposing the creation of “huge car parks” as a transport solution.”

    Yeah, so lets try and push another 20k cars into the centre of a city that can’t cope with the present traffic congestion. Belfast can’t cope with it. Trains won’t make a difference in Belfast, Central Station can cope with very little traffic & the road sytstem can’t even get 12k to Ravenhill without closing down South Belfast for hours

  • willowfield

    KYLE

    You are joking, Belfast can’t survive an accident on the M2 without closing the whole city for hours.

    No, I’m not joking. It is a fact that the Maze will only have one route in and out, whereas Belfast has dozens of routes. An accident on the M1 at the Maze would have the same consequences as an accident on the M2 in Belfast, so that’s a silly point.

    The rate payers of Belfast own the land & let’s not forget that it is being given free to a private contractor who has shown a total inability to submit a business plan and any detailed plans + will be given ‘free of charge’ on of the few remaining laganside zones for yet more expensive apartment blocks (Maysfield L.C site). Worth a hell of a lot more than the land on the Ormeau Embankment.

    The tax payers of NI own the land at the Maze and let’s not forget that it is being given free to private contractors and that no business plan has been published.

    It’s not the sporting community in the north’s fault that football is so poorly supported.

    Nobody said that it was. (Although, insofar as more of the “sporting community” don’t attend then you could argue that it is.)

    If you are being honest its [sic] all to do with politics and the up front politics of football supporters.

    I am being honest and you couldn’t be further from the truth with your nasty, bigoted sectarian assumptions.

    Yeah, so lets try and push another 20k cars into the centre of a city that can’t cope with the present traffic congestion.

    1. Sporting events do not take place during working hours, so there wouldn’t be “another 20k cars”. There would be much less traffic entering the city for such events as there is commuter traffic every morning.

    2. As public transport and walking will be options in Belfast, there will be less need for people to travel by car in the first place.

    Belfast can’t cope with it. Trains won’t make a difference in Belfast, Central Station can cope with very little traffic & the road sytstem can’t even get 12k to Ravenhill without closing down South Belfast for hours

    Belfast copes with far more than 20k cars entering at the one time EVERY DAY! Central station will cope with more passengers than a halt at the Maze.

    The facts are that all expert opinion (economic, business, sporting and environmental), backed up by research, recognises that the Maze is a stupid location for a stadium, and that city centres are the prime locations for such facilities.

  • willowfield

    BILLY PILGRIM

    That is to say, it’s simply not good enough to argue for something, like a minimalist capacity, which would have the effect of rendering the stadium useless to other codes.

    But it is good enough to argue for a “maximalist” capacity which has the effect of rendering the stadium disastrous for one of the codes?

    That debate simply isn’t one that’s dealing with the reality that this new stadium has to be for all, or it won’t happen. And that means soccer, GAA and rugby lobbyists all have to think about the needs of the other codes, whilst naturally optimising conditions for their own.

    How is the GAA thinking about the needs of football?

    The GAA is only one of the 3 sports to have exercised its veto on the project: it vetoed Belfast as a location; and vetoed the original capacity of 30,000 – demanding that it should be 42,500.

    So which sport is thinking about the interests of the other two sports?

  • kyle

    “Sporting events do not take place during working hours”

    Yeah, like saturday afternoon’s.

    “As public transport and walking will be options in Belfast, there will be less need for people to travel by car in the first place.”

    Don’t forget your helmet.

    “city centres are the prime locations for such facilities.”

    Unless you locate a stadium in a city that has torn each other apart for the last 30 years. Build bridges to avoid certain ‘non friendly areas, reroute to avoid other ‘non friendly” main routes. Bypass M3 & M2 main routes into city etc….

    The campaign by football supporters is more to do with loyalist politics than it has to with a team who were lucky to get 7-8 k a few years ago.

  • lincoln

    The Ulster Branch of the IRFU has given its support for the Maze project and most of the Ulster rugby support are in favour of the national stadium.

    The Ulster branch put forward its own preferences regarding design and so on, so don’t lump us in with the football crown, please.

    Unlike the other codes, we actualy have a cross community support without any political trappings.

  • willowfield

    KYLE

    Yeah, like saturday afternoon’s [sic].

    Exactly.

    The campaign by football supporters is more to do with loyalist politics than it has to with a team who were lucky to get 7-8 k a few years ago.

    It’s not. Your comments, however, betray your own sectarian bigotry.

    LINCOLN

    The Ulster Branch of the IRFU has given its support for the Maze project and most of the Ulster rugby support are in favour of the national stadium.

    The latter part of your statement is a lie.

  • IJP

    Hi willowfield

    Good to see you back.

    within what timescale

    Firstly, it’s blimmin’ stupid to start any project without a timescale. Not that that stops our glorious officials from doing it a lot.

    Secondly, I would suggest 2012 – combine Olympics with Titanic centenary, and also in line to tie in with possible Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, possible Irish hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2015, Irish unity in 2016*, etc etc…

    (* just thought I’d get that in before anyone else…)

  • Realist

    “most of the Ulster rugby support are in favour of the national stadium”

    At the Maze?

    I suggest you go to the Ulster Rugby fans’s forum, enter “Maze” into the search facilty, and then contemplate on your silly assertion.

  • DK

    Hello – elephant in the room – the Maze stadium will not be used for sports most of the time. Mostly it will be for concerts.

    And Belfast is not the transport hub of Northern Ireland. Belfast is hemmed into a North-South conduit by hills. The main routes North-South and East-West are where the A1 meets the M1 at Hillsborough…. right next to the Maze.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    WILLOWFIELD

    (No need to shout)

    I’m sorry. It has taken me almost four years of our sparring to realise it, but clearly you’re a barrister. I recognise your style. No need to come to any kind of understanding, just pick over the smallest details and concentrate on them until you open the window of reasonable doubt, right? Are you Jim Allister in disguise?

    “Because there’s no need and it would be stupid from football’s POV. Playing in a soulless half-empty (even with 20,000+ fans) stadium in the hope that one day it might be filled would be a monstrously stupid thing to do.”

    That’s a challenge for soccer to front up to. It’s a stadium that rugby and GAA could fill several times a year – you’re saying that ambition should be frustrated simply because of the relative unpopularity of the minority code? Besides, it’s not like we’re talking about ignoring the needs of soccer – we’re talking about far exceeding them. We’re talking about housing soccer in a palace, about providing for soccer facilities far beyond that which its progress in NI warrants. Talk about biting the hand that feeds!

    “No-one’s interested in keeping “fenians” (or GAA) out of a new stadium for the sectarian reasons to which you shamefully allude.”

    No, you’re just talking about excluding the Fenians for reasons that, no doubt, have nothing whatsoever to do with sectarianism. Eerily reminiscent of the old Stormont junta, as I’ve said. No, sectarianism has nothing whatsoever to do with it, and no doubt the proponents of such exclusion would be shocked, shocked at the suggestion that it did. Same old same old.

    “The reality, however, is that the Maze stadium is a stadium designed for the needs of GAA and in a totally unsuitable location. It does not meet the needs of football, therefore it is not in football’s interests to support it.”

    As I’ve said, I’m in favour of a Belfast location, idealist that I am, though it has to be acknowledged that the IFA, IRFU and GAA have all, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, backed the Maze. The pro-Belfast lobby has been predominantly soccer fans so far, and has been fairly anti-GAA in tone too, which is fairly depressing and problematic for someone like myself, a pro-Belfast (but not native Belfast) GAA member.

    “Why don’t the GAA agree to a 25,000 stadium in Belfast? Presumably because it’s not in their interests – fair enough, that is their decision. Are they “sectarian” for demanding a stadium to meet their needs?”

    No. Of course not.

    “If not, then why is football sectarian for demanding a stadium to meet its needs?”

    Because GAA fans aren’t angling for the de facto exclusion of any other sport, some soccer fans are. GAA and rugby fans want a stadium that meets their needs and exceeds those needs of soccer. Everyone can use a 45k stadium but only soccer can use a 25k stadium. Soccer’s relative weakness is soccer’s problem.

    “But it is good enough to argue for a “maximalist” capacity which has the effect of rendering the stadium disastrous for one of the codes?”

    How would it be “disastrous” for soccer to be relocated from its present slum tenement to a four star UEFA stadium? And why shouldn’t soccer fans be thinking of ways of attracting back the 40, 50k crowds that once packed the terraces? This sheer unimaginativeness is certainly no reason to build a mediocre, minimalist stadium that’s totally unfit for GAA Ulster finals or Ireland rugby internationals.

    “How is the GAA thinking about the needs of football?”

    The GAA is proposing something that is, frankly, too good for soccer (if soccer is judged by its record and present standing).

    “The GAA is only one of the 3 sports to have exercised its veto on the project: it vetoed Belfast as a location; and vetoed the original capacity of 30,000 – demanding that it should be 42,500.”

    The GAA has vetoed nothing. You’re lying.

    Look, there’s a 45,000 stadium there for the taking – should we really ask for less, because of soccer’s relative unpopularity?

    “So which sport is thinking about the interests of the other two sports?”

    GAA and rugby need a bigger stadium than soccer – a 45,000 stadium meets the needs of two codes and exceeds the needs of the third. Sorry if I am unsympathetic to the code that says “but that’s just too big for us”. If soccer’s such a small fry, well: boo hoo hoo.

  • Ziznivy

    Can we have a thread on the IFA’s deal with Sky please and if so can the subject be discussed without resort to anti-OWC bile and bigotry?

  • poodler

    ziz

    But the bigotry exists within your fan base, why else would n.i supporters be erecting uvf & uff flags alongside ifa flags during the orange order marching season in loyalist areas, like broughshane & Rathcoole.

    poodler(c)