Windsor Going South?

The continuing debacle over the siting of a new multi-sports stadium is likely to re-enter the political arena with the news that an IFA/ Linfield-commissioned report is due to recommend the closure of the South Stand at Windsor Park from January 2008, reducing the capacity of the stadium to 9,000. IFA Chief Executive, Howard Wells, admits he has “no idea where the money is coming from” to meet the cost of upgrading Windsor to the basic standard required to host international football- now there’s true leadership for ya, IFA-style!
With opinion strongly divided within the DUP over the location of such a stadium and republicans on record as opposing any alternative siting to that on offer at Long Kesh/ Maze site, it doesn’t appear that the IFA’s ‘wish’ for a massive financial bail-out is likely- in which case, this website and phone number may come in handy…

  • Bemused

    Ha, ha and again ha. Bunch of sectarian bigots reap what they have sowed.

  • pigs will fly

    I’d imagine allowing England rugby team to line up and sing God Save the Queen would be an easier pill to swallow for the GAA than offering the hand of friendship to Northern Ireland….given the official support for the campaign of terrorism to eradicate all traces of Northern Ireland from the map for 3 decades or more

  • Please folks, at least try and hide your glee. You’re not really doing anyone any favours here.

  • willowfield

    One wonders what exactly is supposed to be wrong with the South Stand. Safe in 2007 but not safe in 2008.

    And what happened to the scaremongering about the North Stand having to be closed after the Sweden match in March? Funny how we heard nothing more about that.

    These reports are rather convenient for those pushing the Maze.

  • Oiliféar

    “… official support for the campaign of terrorism …” – ?

    But Chris, don’t you think this stadium would seem far more likely? Won’t be available for two more years, but the IFA’d be waiting far longer for Croker, me thinks.

  • Quite a few conditionals in Well’s spiel piece,let’s wait and see the report’s findings before relying too much on Cheerleader Howard’s interpretation.

    Regarding the timing, four points;

    1.IFA’s contract with Linfield FC will have ended by January, coicidence that it is also the time that the stand will need to be shut down.

    2. There is new legislation directly coming into force after the Denmark match which will cause the South Stand to close?

    3. This news from Ravenhill doesn’t auger well for the pro Mazers, strangely omitted by Mr Donnelly in his analysis:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3021923.ece

    4. Weren’t we (or Peter Robinson was anyway) promised a proper business plan for the Maze, you know a “business plan” with real figures and stuff, by October? I wonder if the figures are not all that was expected on that one, hence the pre-emptive pr strike by Wells?

  • Realist

    Chris,

    “due to recommend the closure of the South Stand at Windsor Park from January 2008”

    On a point of clarity, this relates only to international matches.

    Linfield FC were happy to receive their UEFA licence as early as June 2007 – one of the signatories being a certain Mr Wells.

    In other words, Windsor Park is “fit for purpose” for Linfield FC, the owners of Windsor Park.

    Given that Mr Wells has served notice on Linfield FC of the IFA’s desire to leave Windsor Park after the current Euro Qualifiers, the onus is on the IFA to start seeking alternative venues.

  • rubin

    Another couple of defeats and 9000 will be to many seats, just as a few years ago.

    A short term concern in my opinion.

  • Michael Robinson

    3. This news from Ravenhill doesn’t auger well for the pro Mazers, strangely omitted by Mr Donnelly in his analysis:

    This was covered in a previous rugby thread, however the Ravenhill redevelopment will actually REDUCE capacity from around 12,500 to 11,000. The redevelopment is to “upgrade facilities” (which will presumeably mean higher ticket prices) and the overall revenue will increase despite reduced capacity.

    Based upon 06/07 attendances, Ravenhill with a capacity of 11k would mean 6 out of 12 Ulster home games being sell-outs and an average capacity of 98%, so there is no doubt that Ulster Rugby needs access to a higher capacity stadium.

  • Cap’n Bob

    Report by October? October has not ended yet.

  • smcgiff

    *Ahem* Similar to when the ROI looked like it didn’t have a stadium on the Island of Ireland it looked like it would have to play its home internationals in Wales.

    How about NI approaching the GAA and asking for Croke Park?

    *Genuine suggestion, but ducks head anyway*

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Croke Park is available for use….good rates too!

  • ulsterfan

    In this age of equality let us examine how much exchequer money from Britain made its way into the coffers of the GAA , IRFU “Ulster branch” and IFA.
    A review of the last 15 years would be appropriate
    Depending on the results a case might be made to build a soccer/rugby stadium for 25,000 and up grade Casement Park.
    A stadium will be built close to Belfast and it will not be at the Maze.

  • Capn Bob
    Report by October? October has not ended yet

    Perhaps I could have worded it better.
    Report is supposed to be made public by the end of October.

    Doesn’t mean that the pertinent figures are not already available to Poots,Wells and Co.

    And bearing in mind the fact that the Freedom of Information Act had to be be invoked to drag out of them the findings of the last report, I’m not that confident that they would immediately share the findings with the general public.
    Expect an upturn in the pro-Maze propaganda over the next few weeks.

  • thekinkslfc

    to bemused- are those the same bigots who burnt tricolors in the glentoran end at the recent match v cliftonville 😉

  • ulsterfan

    ONeill

    You say there will be an upturn in pro Maze propaganda.
    Propaganda never built a thing.
    Reasoned argument, common sense and economic forces can work together to achieve things otherwise you are left with hot air and nothing.

  • Propaganda never built a thing.

    No, that’s of course true, ulsterfan and to be honest, the cack-handed attempts at hood-winking the public by Agent Poots and friends have probably worked to the detriment of the Maze option.

    Reasoned argument, common sense and economic forces can work together to achieve things otherwise you are left with hot air and nothing.

    Only when (or if) we get all the options laided out transparently on the table can the final, correct decision be made.

    If that does happen, then I’m now confident it’s the economic forces which will ultimately determine the choice- which is going to definitely rule out the Maze and probably also a Belfast alternative.
    Where does that leave the IFA?
    Up the Swannee, minus a rowing implement, the useless t*ssers.

  • ulsterfan

    oneill

    At least we agree the stadium will not be at the Maze.
    Football and rugby need a new home in Belfast and a new ground will be built.
    Soccer needs and deserves a lot of investment from the public purse as there is no other way to raise it .
    Rugby is probably in a better financial shape but it makes sense to bring the sports together.
    Glentoran will be developing on a new site in a few years and that is an opportunity . Windsor will have to be brought up to standard.

  • Soccer needs and deserves a lot of investment from the public purse as there is no other way to raise it .

    Well….I’m a football fan, but after the amount of money they’ve managed to waste over the last decade thorugh their general incompetence, I don’t think the IFA deserve another silver farthing of public funds.

    If a new stadium is to be built, then the funding must come principally from private investment not our taxes.

    Otherwise, let’s make do with what we’ve got, with whatever modifications are needed.

  • Realist

    “Windsor will have to be brought up to standard”

    ulsterfan,

    What for exactly?

    The ground is up to standard for the needs of Linfield FC.

    The IFA’s contract with Linfield FC ends on 18th January 2008 – as per the letter received by Linfield FC from Howard Wells in July 2007.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Realist

    Thanks for the point of clarity.

    ulsterfan

    The very suggestion that millions of pound be thrown after multiple new stadia across Belfast just to ensure rugby and soccer don’t have to share with the GAA is a joke, never mind a non-starter.

    The only option anywhere near viable will remain the Long Kesh/ Maze venue, and only that if substantial private investment is forthcoming.

    Else the IFA will have to get serious about booking Ibrox, Anfield or Croker for that matter for future matches.

    Or maybe they’ll have to return to Linfield with a less antagonistic attitude as they come to the realisation that they don’t have much weight to throw around in the new Executive, or anywhere else for that matter.

  • USA

    Public money should not be spent on bailing out incompetent sporting organisations such as the IFA. Money from the tax base needs to be spent on education, health etc – not to satisfy the selfish entertainment needs of a few thousand male residents of Belfast and the surrounding areas.
    No – let the IFA etc sort out their own mess, public funds are for the greater good.
    Note to self – I wonder if Bertie FF gave money to the GAA for Croke Park or if the GAA did it all themselves. If they did it themselves then credit where it is due.

  • Gabrielle

    “Rugby is probably in a better financial shape …. ”

    Because IRFU know which tune to sing maybe? …

    USA
    GAA did most of Croke Park themselves … but no one in the republic begrudges them a penny that they have got from Irish Gov. (100m which was about 1/4 of what it cost).

    Lansdowne Road Irish Gov. are giving 180m. IRFU are providing site (valued at about 500m) as well as cash and FAI about 70m.

    Note to IFA (before considering making a phone call to borrow stadium) FAI now have a stake in Lansdowne Road! Want to watch the bickering over player eligibility.

  • thekinkslfc

    TO ULSTERFAN

    Thanks for your fantastic assessment of when the contract will end, unfortunately it is in the hands of contractual law experts, not slugger o’tool posters, and we’ll see what they make of the IFA requesting a break in their contract decades before the date THEY specifically requested

  • Realist

    “Thanks for your fantastic assessment of when the contract will end, unfortunately it is in the hands of contractual law experts, not slugger o’tool posters, and we’ll see what they make of the IFA requesting a break in their contract decades before the date THEY specifically requested”

    thekinkslfc,

    I think you may have directed your post incorrectly at Ulsterfan.

    Indeed, the matter is in the hands of Linfield Fc’s lawyers.

    Howard Wells has signified the IFA’s intention to terminate the contract with Linfield FC on 18th January 2008 – by virtue of a letter sent to Linfield FC in July 2007.

    The lawyers will decide whether this is a breach of contract and, if so, what compensation is due too Linfield FC.

    Notwithstanding that, it seems odd now that Mr Wells is gurning about having nowhere to play.

    He wrote the bloody letter – no consultation with Linfield FC and no thinking about the short term problem until a new stadium is available.

    He has dug himself into one almighty hole, and has acted in a provocative manner with those whose assistance he may need to rely on.

  • thekinkslfc

    Apologies Ulsterfan, it was indeed in response to Realist

  • willowfield

    Chris Donnelly

    The very suggestion that millions of pound be thrown after multiple new stadia across Belfast just to ensure rugby and soccer don’t have to share with the GAA is a joke, never mind a non-starter.

    This statement needs to be challenged on two fronts.

    First, the cost of upgrading existing stadia, or even building new stadia in Belfast is less than the cost of building the Maze, so – on financial grounds – how can either suggestion be either a joke or a non-starter?

    Second, you imply that the unpopularity of the Maze is due to a desire not to share with the GAA (presumably with a sectarian subtext). This is (deliberately?) misleading. The Maze is unpopular primarily because of its totally unsuitable location: out-of-town locations have proved to be disastrous; they are contrary to environmental, transport and planning policies. But also because its size design do not meet the needs of football or rugby – it’s too big. Yes, this is at the behest of the GAA, but if the GAA’s demands don’t meet the needs of the other sports then the basis for sharing is hugely weakened. And, finally, it is rather rich to be complaining about sports not wishing to share with the GAA when the GAA has rules enshrined in its constitution to ban other sports from sharing with it!

  • rubin

    willow

    Any chance of the IFA ending it discriminatory rules regarding the banning of sport on a Sunday.

  • thekinkslfc

    Not that I am overly religious, who does that discriminate against, it is a rule that applies to all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race

  • ulsterfan

    Football is no 1 sport in the world.
    As a society we should do all we can to encourage our children to become involved and play to the highest level.
    The fact the game was not administered well in the past should not be an obstacle for development.
    GAA do not need a new stadium in or near Belfast. Casement Park is more than adequate but if some improvements are needed I have no problem with these being funded from the public purse.
    Football is in such a weak position that it needs more help.
    If IFA had received the same support as GAA in the past our problems would not arise .
    We know there is a need so lets address it on a fair and equitable basis—- no more no less.

  • willowfield

    rubin

    Any chance of the IFA ending it discriminatory rules regarding the banning of sport on a Sunday.

    Yes, I think there is. Why do you ask?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ulsterfan

    “Football is no 1 sport in the world.”

    Yes, but it’s third best (at best) in NI, and that’s what counts.

    “As a society we should do all we can to encourage our children to become involved and play to the highest level.”

    I think this statement is true of all sport.

    “The fact the game was not administered well in the past should not be an obstacle for development.”

    A track record of dire administration is a very good argument as to why said administration should not be trusted with huge sums from the public purse. If the IFA were a normal business, it would have gone to the wall years ago.

    “Football is in such a weak position that it needs more help.”

    Frankly, soccer is in such a weak position that it should keep its head down. To be honest, I’ve been in favour of a Belfast site for a shared stadium all along, but the arrogance and barely-concealed anti-GAA animus evident from the NI fans’ lobby has turned me right off. And the irony is, if there’s no new stadium, it won’t be the GAA, IRFU/Ulster rugby or indeed Linfield FC that suffers – it’ll be the NI fans who have so sickened me and many others.

    “If IFA had received the same support as GAA in the past our problems would not arise.”

    If only the GAA had received a fraction of the support NI soccer has down the years, we’d be having a Croker-style “Open Up Casement” debate right now.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow

    “The cost of upgrading existing stadia….”

    Where are you getting these figures from?

    “The Maze is unpopular primarily because of its totally unsuitable location:”

    It’s only unsuitable if you’re from Belfast. (Have to laugh at you city lads, who find it quite unreasonable that you should be expected to travel EIGHT MILES to a game!) Why is the Maze a “totally unsuitable location”?

    “…out-of-town locations have proved to be disastrous;”

    You’re over-egging the pudding. I agree, city centre locations are preferable, but to say “out of town locations have proved to be disastrous” is to apply an absolute judgement on a subjective reality.

    “they are contrary to environmental, transport and planning policies.”

    Fair point.

    “But also because its size design do not meet the needs of football or rugby – it’s too big.”

    It’s not too big for Irish rugby internationals, and certainly wouldn’t be too big for an Ulster rugby side on a 1999-style European run. I’d even venture that NI could have pulled 40k for the England game. (Or indeed, with them being on such a good run, for the likes of Spain or Sweden.)Upper tiers can be roped off for less-attended games, to ensure minimal loss of atmosphere.

    I mentioned the other day, the “fair weather index” – as in, you can judge the health of a sport by the number of fair weather fans it attracts at a given moment. Willow, you’re probably right to suggest that there are perhaps no more than 10,000 hardcore NI fans, but you’re wrong to think that the future of NI soccer should be solely designed with them in mind. You shouldn’t have to be a hardcore fan to want to go to a game – I’d guess many thousands of only slightly interested fans would go to a modern, attractive stadium to watch top class teams. And I mean nationalists, unionists and none of the above. They wouldn’t be going because they wanted to become one of the hardcore, they’d just be looking for an enjoyable day/evening out. Those same people, however, would not go to the notorious Windsor. (Whether you think that notoriety is deserved or not.)

    “Yes, this is at the behest of the GAA, but if the GAA’s demands don’t meet the needs of the other sports then the basis for sharing is hugely weakened.”

    The argument for sharing is that the public purse is paying for it, so all sports should be entitled to use it. End of. The way you’re talking, you’d think soccer was doing GAA a favour by contemplating “sharing” with them.

    Perhaps GAA people should start trying to argue that the stadium should be shared between GAA and rugby, with 10,000 seats and standing room for 40,000 more. Not that it’d be sectarianism or anything, it’s just that FIFA’s rules on all-seater stadia are fundamentally different from those governing GAA and rugby. So, sorry soccer, but we don’t think GAA and rugby should share with you. Nothing sectarian about it, of course, it’s just that our needs are just different, that’s all….

    Except that you don’t hear GAA people coming out with this tripe, do you?

    “And, finally, it is rather rich to be complaining about sports not wishing to share with the GAA when the GAA has rules enshrined in its constitution to ban other sports from sharing with it!”

    The GAA’s rules refer to GAA property. Sorry to break it to you, but any new stadium here would not be the property of the IFA, even if some soccer fans sure behave as if it would be. It’d be a public facility. I’m not aware of any GAA fans calling for soccer to be excluded from any public facility. Nor am I aware of any GAA supporter bitching about the fact that there has never, ever, in all history, been a GAA match at Windsor Park, at Ravenhill, at Lansdowne, at Thomond, at the Oval, at Dalymount….

    Ah, but never mind reality, you say: the GAA (which as hosted both rugby and soccer this very year) has a rule….

  • willowfield

    Billy Pilgrim

    Where are you getting these figures from?

    From the SIB.

    It’s only unsuitable if you’re from Belfast. (Have to laugh at you city lads, who find it quite unreasonable that you should be expected to travel EIGHT MILES to a game!) Why is the Maze a “totally unsuitable location”?

    Oh dear. You completely fail to understand the arguments about the proposed location. It’s got nothing to do with travelling eight miles. It’s got everything to do with being a soulless, isolated location lacking the necessary infrastructure.

    You’re over-egging the pudding. I agree, city centre locations are preferable, but to say “out of town locations have proved to be disastrous” is to apply an absolute judgement on a subjective reality.

    Well, ok, in some cases they have proved to be disastrous. In other cases they have proved to be not as good as city centre locations would have been.

    Fair point.

    Thank you.

    It’s not too big for Irish rugby internationals, and certainly wouldn’t be too big for an Ulster rugby side on a 1999-style European run. I’d even venture that NI could have pulled 40k for the England game. (Or indeed, with them being on such a good run, for the likes of Spain or Sweden.)Upper tiers can be roped off for less-attended games, to ensure minimal loss of atmosphere.

    Ordinarily, it will be too big for Ulster rugby or NI football, occasional big fixtures notwithstanding. And, sorry, but we don’t want a half-full ground with the other half “roped off”.

    I mentioned the other day, the “fair weather index” – as in, you can judge the health of a sport by the number of fair weather fans it attracts at a given moment. Willow, you’re probably right to suggest that there are perhaps no more than 10,000 hardcore NI fans, but you’re wrong to think that the future of NI soccer should be solely designed with them in mind.

    Except I don’t think that!

    You shouldn’t have to be a hardcore fan to want to go to a game – I’d guess many thousands of only slightly interested fans would go to a modern, attractive stadium to watch top class teams.

    40,000 wouldn’t, except for very occasional matches. And especially not at the Maze. You don’t build a huge stadium because every 10 years or so you’ll get 40,000. You build a 25,000 stadium because you hope regularly to attract 20,000. If you’re going to build an ambitiously-big stadium, then its location becomes even more crucial – all the more reason not to site it at the Maze.

    And I mean nationalists, unionists and none of the above. They wouldn’t be going because they wanted to become one of the hardcore, they’d just be looking for an enjoyable day/evening out.

    Not much enjoyment sitting in traffic for hours before and after a game in a half-full soulless bowl in the middle of nowhere.

  • willowfield

    Billy Pilgrim

    Those same people, however, would not go to the notorious Windsor. (Whether you think that notoriety is deserved or not.)

    Well, some may not. Others undoubtedly would in the right circumstances. And all undoubtedly would go to a new stadium in a decent location.

    The argument for sharing is that the public purse is paying for it, so all sports should be entitled to use it. End of. The way you’re talking, you’d think soccer was doing GAA a favour by contemplating “sharing” with them.

    Yet, ironically, it costs more to build a shared stadium at the Maze than it would to upgrade existing facilities or even to build a new stadium in Belfast. Each sport will look after its own interests: if GAA determines that it needs a 40,000+ stadium at an isolated location that is it’s call; if football and/or rugby determine that they need a smaller stadium in a city centre location that is also their call. If the needs of the sports can’t be matched then a shared stadium won’t work. Neither the GAA, nor “soccer” can be blamed for putting their own interests first. They would be irresponsible not to.

    Perhaps GAA people should start trying to argue that the stadium should be shared between GAA and rugby, with 10,000 seats and standing room for 40,000 more. Not that it’d be sectarianism or anything, it’s just that FIFA’s rules on all-seater stadia are fundamentally different from those governing GAA and rugby. So, sorry soccer, but we don’t think GAA and rugby should share with you. Nothing sectarian about it, of course, it’s just that our needs are just different, that’s all….

    No problem with that, so long as some funding also went to football.

    Except that you don’t hear GAA people coming out with this tripe, do you?

    Well, no, but we do know that the GAA people demanded a stadium that is too big for football and Ulster rugby and at a location favoured by neither. “A stadium designed for GAA, but which could also be used for football and rugby” (Tony Whitehead, SIB).

    The GAA’s rules refer to GAA property. Sorry to break it to you, but any new stadium here would not be the property of the IFA, even if some soccer fans sure behave as if it would be. It’d be a public facility.

    Indeed the rules do refer to GAA property – other sports are banned from it. Hence it is somewhat rich for an apologist for the GAA – an organisation which bans other sports from its own property – complaining about other sports supposedly not wishing to share with it! The irony is plain regardless of whether the site being complained about is a public facility.

  • ulsterfan

    Would some one please get figures as to what financial aid has been given to various sports, otherwise this debate is not going anywhere.
    What grants have been paid by the exchequer and the Lottery commission.
    Fairness all around is order of the day.

  • rubin

    willow

    ‘soulless, isolated location’

    Was that not Windsor between 1987 & 2002 🙂

  • thekinkslfc

    certainly wasn’t souless on many occasions, as for “isolated”, did it get lifte to a different location in the country during this period 😉

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow

    “From the SIB.”
    Fair enough.

    “Oh dear. You completely fail to understand the arguments about the proposed location. It’s got nothing to do with travelling eight miles. It’s got everything to do with being a soulless, isolated location lacking the necessary infrastructure.”
    Actually, I understand the arguments very well, which is why I have always been in favour of a city centre stadium. However, I pointed out that some of the arguments used by mostly Belfast-based people are spurious to anyone south of Finaghy or north of Glengormley. (You yourself described Lisburn as “the middle of nowhere” – classic city-boy arrogance!) I wanted to see if you could make your argument as to why a city location would be best, without doing so in the totally off-putting way I referred to already. (I repeat, I agree with you re the location, yet your manner, and the manner of those backing a Belfast stadium is enough to turn me.) Your reply was condescending and rude. Ah well.

    “Ordinarily, it will be too big for Ulster rugby or NI football, occasional big fixtures notwithstanding.”
    A 40k stadium would represent a compelling reason for the IRFU to play at least a couple of meaningful internationals there per year. (Say one Six Nations game and a major Autumn international.) Furthermore, why shouldn’t soccer be looking to attract much larger attendances than at present? They used to get 60,000 at Windsor. The Troubles are over and we hear regularly about how sectarianism has been given the boot. Why is soccer so unambitious? Why should rugby and GAA be held up by soccer’s lack of ambition?

    “And, sorry, but we don’t want a half-full ground with the other half “roped off”.”

    Now you’re just being a tosser. You know very well that it’s standard practice in stadia around the world for upper tiers to be closed off at lesser-attended games, with little or no loss of atmosphere. You pretend like I’m suggesting shutting half the ground, though you know very well that’s not what I’m talking about. Why do dishonest Willow? Why so needlessly difficult?

    “Except I don’t think that!”

    You don’t think what?

    “40,000 wouldn’t, except for very occasional matches.”
    I’d say the three sports, plus concerts, could fill a 40k stadium half a dozen times a year, with a couple more 30k+ crowds and a few more 20k plus. That’d be a perfectly reasonable performance for the stadium. If soccer can’t pull the crowds, who’s problem is that?

    “You don’t build a huge stadium because every 10 years or so you’ll get 40,000.”

    40k isn’t a “huge” stadium. It’s medium-sized, at best. It would only barely qualify to host a World Cup game, in the unlikely event that Ireland ever hosts it. If my reckoning is correct, that would make it the seventh-largest stadium in Ireland. How about, instead of expecting everyone else to lower theirs, soccer fans tried lifting their pathetic horizons?

    “If the needs of the sports can’t be matched then a shared stadium won’t work.”

    To be honest, the impression I get is that certain vocal NI fans are working overtime to create reasons why the GAA’s needs are totally irreconcilable with theirs. And yes, of course, this raises the spectre of sectarianism. Would you agree that NI fans need to do more to counter this impression?

    “Neither the GAA, nor “soccer” can be blamed for putting their own interests first.”

    And they will, you can be sure of that. The disparity however, is in the relative strength of the organisations. The IFA has no choice but to take whatever it is given – yet it is soccer fans who are the most vocal and are quickest to throw their weight around. What arrogance! Meanwhile the GAA is sensibly playing its cards close to its chest, knowing full well that they are actually in the strongest position of the three sports, and would be the most important crowd-puller in any new stadium.
    There’d be a certain amount of schadenfreude in seeing the GAA walk away from the project (which they don’t need) back to their own embarrassment of riches in terms of stadia, leaving the soccer crowd to wail impotently as they limp back to Windsor (greeted by Linfield’s smiling solicitors) to play before 9,000 ultras in crumbling stands, bitching about how that 40,000 state-of-the-art stadium would’ve been too big anyway….
    But that’d be childish.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Well, no, but we do know that the GAA people demanded a stadium that is too big for football and Ulster rugby and at a location favoured by neither.”

    Actually the IFA have backed the Maze, as have the IRFU.

    “Indeed the rules do refer to GAA property – other sports are banned from it.”

    Sorry, but did you not see Ireland v England at Croker? Or Ireland v Slovakia? The GAA HAS hosted other sports. That means you can’t keep bitching about how they won’t share!

    “Hence it is somewhat rich for an apologist for the GAA – an organisation which bans other sports from its own property – complaining about other sports supposedly not wishing to share with it!”

    Apologist? What on earth does the GAA have to apologise for?

    “The irony is plain regardless of whether the site being complained about is a public facility.”

    I own a swimming pool. I don’t want you using it. Tough. There is a public swimming pool up the street, which my taxes have helped pay for. I decide to use it. You can’t stop me. There is no irony in this position. If you own an asset, you can decide who uses it. If you don’t, you can’t. End of story.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Willow

    “You don’t build a huge stadium because every 10 years or so you’ll get 40,000.”

    Maybe soccer would only fill it once a decade. Rugby and GAA could probably fill it two or three times a year each.

    The selfishness of soccer fans is breathtaking.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    The Sports Council for Northern Ireland provided exchequer funding as follows in 2006-2007:

    Soccer £2,158,272.68
    Rugby £882,900.62
    GAA £2,692,846.27

    From Hansard this May.

  • Realist

    The gloves are off:

    Linfield issue writ against IFA

    The IFA wants to terminate its deal with Linfield over Windsor Park

    A wrangle between the Irish FA and Linfield over the venue of international matches is heading for the courts, it has emerged.

    The IFA wants to terminate a deal signed in 1984 stating that all home internationals would be played at Linfield’s Windsor Park for 104 years.

    But Linfield’s solicitors Carson McDowell issued a High Court writ of summons against the IFA on Tuesday.

    Six Linfield trustees lodged papers in the High Court.

    The Linfield trustees applied for a declaration that the IFA was not entitled to terminate the 1984 Agreement and a further declaration that the agreement should continue to run for the remainder of its term.

    The trustees are Richard Johnson, Peter Lunn, Dr Cameron Ramsey, Jack Grundie, William Meikle and Paul Weir.

    In the writ the trustees insisted that Linfield was not in breach of clause 5 (1) of the agreement – to keep Windsor Park, the stands, offices and other accommodation in good order, repair and condition.

    Alternatively, if there was a breach, the trustees argued, then Linfield should be given adequate time to remedy it.

    Linfield is also seeking an injunction to prevent the IFA from holding matches covered by the terms of the Agreement at any other ground than Windsor Park pending determination of the court action.

    The potential financial loss to Linfield is covered by the final clauses in the writ which claim damages for any breach of the agreement by the IFA.

    Leading QC Mark Horner has been briefed along with Jacqueline Simpson, BL, to represent Linfield.

    The IFA has 14 days to respond to the writ which states that if they fail to do so the club may proceed and judgement may be given in their absence.

  • al

    you’ll have a far better chance of getting 40k in Belfast than you would at the Maze. Good road and train links to Her Majesty’s former finest aint there?

    Dunno about GAA but i’d reckon you’d be lucky to pull over 20,000 to ANY NI footy match or ulster rugby game.

    Personally a stadium around 25,000-30,000 in size somewhere inside Belfast close to road/rail/air/sea links and useful things like restaurants and bars would be a more feasible option than sticking a 40,000ish stadium in the countryside where there is essentially nothing.

  • Realist

    “Maybe soccer would only fill it once a decade. Rugby and GAA could probably fill it two or three times a year each”

    Billy,

    The, as yet unseen, Business Plan might reveal more on that score.

    When are we going to see it?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    al

    “Personally a stadium around 25,000-30,000 in size somewhere inside Belfast close to road/rail/air/sea links and useful things like restaurants and bars would be a more feasible option than sticking a 40,000ish stadium in the countryside where there is essentially nothing.”

    I happen to agree, re location, but the new stadium would have to be bigger than Clones (35k), Casement (32k) and Breffni Park (30k) to make it worth the GAA’s while. As I’ve also said, a larger stadium could attract rugby internationals.

    That aside, in principle I think a city centre stadium would be the best thing. It’s not the message but some of the messengers that are the problem!

  • ulsterfan

    George

    Thank you very much.
    This gives us something to work on.
    I wonder does the picture change if we took the figures over a longer term say 10/15 years?

  • nmc

    Again and again the infrastructure argument. WTF do people expect? Someone mentions the idea of building a stadium outside the city and the road and rail links magically appear overnight? Of course there isn’t access to the site, there’s nothing there to access yet. It would be a bit funny having a motorway and train line running to a disused empty prison wouldn’t it. The idea would be that once there’s a stadium you build roads and rail links.

    There’s a motorway, and the trainline passes within a mile of the proposed stadium. Where exactly is this mythical train line at Ormeau Park? What about the motorway? I must have missed it somehow. And of course to top everything off, the traffic just flows through Belfast, why an extra 20,000 cars would just fly through town without a problem.

    Yet people talk about the lack of infrastructure at the Maze which is a lot closer to both train and motorway lines.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “The, as yet unseen, Business Plan might reveal more on that score. When are we going to see it?”

    The way things are going, I’d say the Business Plan will be published the week after the Anlgo-Irish Boundary Commission issues its report…..

  • Gabrielle

    “I wonder does the picture change if we took the figures over a longer term say 10/15 years?”

    Full breakdown of Lottery Funding for all sports from Sports Council of NI (Strategic Plan ’02-’07 – Appendix IV – pp.34-) (its a pdf file).

    Note criteria for drawing down funds!

    http://www.sportni.net/Lottery/index.htm

    Redeveloped Thomond Park in Limerick is doubling its capacity for Munster Rugby to 26,000. Munster (smaller population than NI/Ulster) is well serviced with GAA/Soccer stadia and also plays half its Magners League games in Cork. It seems they have worked it out that it will be viable on their Heineken Cup games (and of course selling the naming rights (some say its soul) to the new stadia for 16m also helps).

  • Ulster Fan

    There was a talk about this before on Slugger, I’m not sure about Exchequer funding, but as far as I understood it, in the ten years up to 2005, the three main sports received the following Lottery funding:

    http://www.lottery2009.culture.gov.uk/documents/Sports%20Northern%20Ireland.doc

    Football-7 million.
    Gaelic Sports-13 million.
    Rugby Union-1.7(!) million

    I stress that this is not Exchequer funding but from the Lottery Fund, anyway, hope it helps.

    Also anyone read today Poot’s 10 year Strategic Sports Plan- (again!) I understand it correctly, including a “Multi-Sport Stadium”- 260 Million shortfall!!!

  • willowfield

    Billy Pilgrim

    Actually, I understand the arguments very well, which is why I have always been in favour of a city centre stadium.
    Then why pretend that the opposition to the Maze location is based on people not being willing to travel eight miles?

    (You yourself described Lisburn as “the middle of nowhere” – classic city-boy arrogance!)
    I didn’t. I described the Maze as the middle of nowhere. (The proposed stadium location is the Maze, not Lisburn.) And by that I mean it is an isolated, rural location with no amenities or infrastructure. I’m sure you understand, really.

    A 40k stadium would represent a compelling reason for the IRFU to play at least a couple of meaningful internationals there per year. (Say one Six Nations game and a major Autumn international.)

    Clearly not, since the IRFU is only committing to one autumn international every other year! But the point remains that, ordinarily, 40,000 will be too big for Ulster rugby or NI football, occasional big fixtures notwithstanding.

    Furthermore, why shouldn’t soccer be looking to attract much larger attendances than at present?

    Can’t think of any reasons why not. Did someone say it shouldn’t?

    They used to get 60,000 at Windsor. The Troubles are over and we hear regularly about how sectarianism has been given the boot. Why is soccer so unambitious? Why should rugby and GAA be held up by soccer’s lack of ambition?
    Hell, why not build a 200,000 stadium – why stop at 40 or 60? We wouldn’t want to be seen as unambitious, now.

    Now you’re just being a tosser. You know very well that it’s standard practice in stadia around the world for upper tiers to be closed off at lesser-attended games, with little or no loss of atmosphere. You pretend like I’m suggesting shutting half the ground, though you know very well that’s not what I’m talking about. Why do dishonest Willow? Why so needlessly difficult?

    Zzzzzzzzzzz, we’re back to abuse again. (While we’re on the subject of abuse, any chance that you’re going to have the integrity to defend or retract your prejudiced accusations about those suggesting a NI rugby team?) It’s not the case that closing off upper tiers results in little or no loss of atmosphere. And how do you “rope off” half the ground without shutting it?

    You don’t think what?

    What you said I thought (and to which my comment was a response!): that the future of NI soccer should be solely designed with a 10,000 “hardcore” in mind.

    I’d say the three sports, plus concerts, could fill a 40k stadium half a dozen times a year, with a couple more 30k+ crowds and a few more 20k plus. That’d be a perfectly reasonable performance for the stadium.

    Great – but attracting 40,000 at pop concerts, GAA games and one rugby game every other year is irrelevant to the needs of football. Go ahead with it, but don’t expect football to want to play anything other than very occasional games there when it doesn’t meet football’s needs.

    40k isn’t a “huge” stadium.

    It is, relative the needs of NI football.

    How about, instead of expecting everyone else to lower theirs, soccer fans tried lifting their pathetic horizons?

    I don’t expect anyone else to lower their expectations, nor do any other football supporters. And “soccer fans’” expectations are lifted – we want a larger stadium.

    To be honest, the impression I get is that certain vocal NI fans are working overtime to create reasons why the GAA’s needs are totally irreconcilable with theirs.

    Then, sadly, you have a false impression. I wonder are your impressions partly formed by your prejudices?

    And yes, of course, this raises the spectre of sectarianism. Would you agree that NI fans need to do more to counter this impression?

    In general terms, there is always more to do to counter, not only the impression of sectarianism, but, more importantly, sectarianism itself. As regards the football campaign against the Maze I’m not sure how the impression could be formed that there is a sectarian agenda to it. I have heard nothing to give me that impression.

    And they will, you can be sure of that. The disparity however, is in the relative strength of the organisations. The IFA has no choice but to take whatever it is given – yet it is soccer fans who are the most vocal and are quickest to throw their weight around. What arrogance!

    No-one of whom I know is under the impression that the IFA is not in the weakest position of the three sports. That does not mean that football fans should sit back and passively allow their sport to move to a stadium which would have dire consequences for the sport that they love.

  • willowfield

    Billy (contd.)

    There’d be a certain amount of schadenfreude in seeing the GAA walk away from the project (which they don’t need) back to their own embarrassment of riches in terms of stadia, leaving the soccer crowd to wail impotently as they limp back to Windsor (greeted by Linfield’s smiling solicitors) to play before 9,000 ultras in crumbling stands, bitching about how that 40,000 state-of-the-art stadium would’ve been too big anyway…. But that’d be childish.

    Well, you’re entitled to your condescending opinion of football fans, but they will make up their own minds on what they believe is in the best interests of their sport. It just so happens that it is their considered opinion that moving to the Maze would be disastrous, that the IFA should be doing what it can to avoid that situation and that the Government should be persuaded to ditch its expensive plans for a vanity stadium that no-one really wants.

    Actually the IFA have backed the Maze, as have the IRFU.

    Indeed, they have, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the GAA demanded that it be build at an isolated location and to their spec. So, the GAA is using its stronger bargaining position to impose its will on the other sports – and I pointed this out to you because the implication of what you were saying is that it would be unthinkable for the GAA to impose its will on football.

    Sorry, but did you not see Ireland v England at Croker? Or Ireland [sic] v Slovakia? The GAA HAS hosted other sports. That means you can’t keep bitching about how they won’t share!

    Um, Croke Park is only one ground of thousands across the island that has only recently been temporarily exempted from the ban. The historical and ongoing ban on other sports by the GAA is certainly relevant when pointing out the irony of a GAA apologist alleging that other sports won’t share with GAA.

    Apologist? What on earth does the GAA have to apologise for?

    It was Chris Donnelly whom I referred to as a GAA apologist.

    I own a swimming pool. I don’t want you using it. Tough. There is a public swimming pool up the street, which my taxes have helped pay for. I decide to use it. You can’t stop me. There is no irony in this position. If you own an asset, you can decide who uses it. If you don’t, you can’t. End of story.

    I’m unaware of ever having said that the GAA doesn’t have the right to decide how it uses its property. The point being made was nothing to do with their rights to make such decisions, but about the irony of complaining about others not wanting to share a facility with them, when they have a constitutional ban in place to prevent their own property being shared with others. Presumably you understand this.

    Maybe soccer would only fill it once a decade. Rugby and GAA could probably fill it two or three times a year each. The selfishness of soccer fans is breathtaking.

    That’s great, but it doesn’t alter the fact that 40,000 is too big for football and the Maze is a ridiculous location for a stadium of any size. “Soccer” fans don’t claim to be anything other than selfish – they are interested in their sport and their sport alone. They don’t expect GAA (indifferent to the Maze) or rugby fans (opposed) to be any different.

    NMC

    Again and again the infrastructure argument. WTF do people expect? Someone mentions the idea of building a stadium outside the city and the road and rail links magically appear overnight? Of course there isn’t access to the site, there’s nothing there to access yet. It would be a bit funny having a motorway and train line running to a disused empty prison wouldn’t it. The idea would be that once there’s a stadium you build roads and rail links.

    You don’t need to build (hugely-expensive) road and rail links if you build the stadium in a city. Plus, the planned links to the Maze will be inadequate, and none of this alters the fact that the Maze is an out-of-town site lacking in the amenities necessary to create economic return or to create an enjoyable match-day experience. This type of infrastructure will never be in place.

    With a city centre stadium, fewer people need to travel by car – many walk and use public transport (which should be encouraged) – and for those who do travel by car, there are more roads to disperse traffic therefore resulting in less congestion than at an out-of-town location. Also cities have other attractions, such as pubs, shops and restaurants which mean that more spectators are more likely to arrive early or to depart late, thereby dispersing traffic over time as well as over different roads. And Belfast copes with far more than 20,000 people arriving every single morning and departing every single evening.

  • ulsterfan

    oneil
    Thanks
    The figures you quote are indeed correct as confirmed by Historical Analysis of Sports Council Lottery Funding.
    The lions share makes its way to GAA and Association football comes a poor second with approx 50%
    I think there are other factors with direct funding from HM government to be considered.

  • william

    Surely funding is linked to attendances etc..

    Would the GAA not outstrip other sports by a long way in attendance figures?

  • emSurely funding is linked to attendances etc..

    Re the lottery funding, no; read the requiremenst in the two links posted.

  • al in bangor

    There’s a motorway, and the trainline passes within a mile of the proposed stadium. Where exactly is this mythical train line at Ormeau Park? What about the motorway? I must have missed it somehow. And of course to top everything off, the traffic just flows through Belfast, why an extra 20,000 cars would just fly through town without a problem.

    Yet people talk about the lack of infrastructure at the Maze which is a lot closer to both train and motorway lines.
    Posted by nmc on Oct 09, 2007 @ 04:15 PM

    Tis a valid point indeed if one prefers Ormeau Park but that isn’t the only Belfast option.

    To be honest I see it being pontificated over for 5 or 10 years and then built at the Maze anyway where it’ll be a complete lemon because there is no chance of the extra infrastructure, with its cost, being provided properly there. Already the project has got “do it as cheap as we can” written all over it.

    Yesterday I was pondering more about it and wondered if the Oval wasn’t actually one of the better possible locations. Within spits distance of a train line, Besties Airport, not a million miles from the city centre and the whole area around it seems to be getting a facelift too. You’d just have to get rid of Glentoran of course!

  • kde

    How does Windsor Park compare to other third world teams stadia?

  • ulsterfan

    kde
    Are you suggesting that NI is a third world country or just making a comparison of stadia?
    If it is the latter the stadium is poor and that is why we are going to get a new one to share with our rugby friends.

  • rubin

    Would Ibrox not be the ideal place for n.i to play games?

  • ulsterfan

    rubin
    NO
    What benefit would that be for NI supporters?

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    The lions share makes its way to GAA and Association football comes a poor second with approx 50%
    I think there are other factors with direct funding from HM government to be considered.

    If I remember correctly the IFA was also granted another separate payment of 9 million on top of the 6 mentioned above but out of sheer incompetence failed to achieve the criteria necessary to draw the cash down.

    I think it was “realist” who pointed this incompetence out to me so hopefully he can confirm this.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    this article says it was 8 million that was put aside for the IFA, but which they apparently have failed to cash in:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/northern_ireland/2949212.stm

  • ulsterfan

    For one reason or another the money was not paid as far as I know.
    The issue is greater than the IFA and a national stadium will be built ,the driving force being the government. Football and rugby will benefit. but the stadium will not be built at the Maze as the GAA are not interested in one in Belfast.
    Control of the stadium will not rest with one sporting body.
    If money is needed to bring Casement Park up to standard then it will be provided.
    This is a good opportunity for Bertie to help.

  • rubin

    ‘What benefit would that be for NI supporters?’

    The bouncey, rule britannia, gstq, billy boys, stormont flags, like minded people etc..

    Home from home !

  • Gabrielle

    Hi Ulsterfan

    “For one reason or another the money was not paid as far as I know.”

    Usual reason is that they did not do what they agreed to (i.e., incompetence). FAI nearly came a cropper a couple of years back for not doing things that they were meant to do as agreed in the the Genesis Plan.

    “This is a good opportunity for Bertie to help.”

    I’d be surprised (actually no, I’d be shocked) if Bertie supported the building of a NATIONAL STADIUM for NI that could not accommodate (for whatever reasons of size etc.) one of its main field sports. His “Bertie Bowl” was inclusive of all sports, although with the GAA having Croke Park up the road, it plainly didn’t need it. Mind you the GAA squeezed a few extra bob from him to support the building of his ‘bowl’ in the first place!

    If the positions were reversed between IFA & GAA (i.e., IFA had the stadia at its disposal that the GAA has), I’d expect him to still want to have all sports catered for in the NI NATIONAL stadium.

  • ulsterfan

    I have no problem with a national stadium catering for GAA soccer and rugby.
    The location is the problem.
    The Maze is the wrong place and GAA will not agree to one in Belfast.

  • George

    Ulsterfan,
    “I have no problem with a national stadium catering for GAA soccer and rugby.
    The location is the problem.
    The Maze is the wrong place and GAA will not agree to one in Belfast.”

    = There will not be a “national” stadium.

    Personaly, I think it’s like the Bertie Bowl all over again with all that project’s inherent flaws with a few NI-specific ones thrown in on top.

    The question is what happens next?

    The IFA have shown themselves incapable of drawing down an 8-million-pound British government handout because of incompetence.

    Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

    So the chances of these useless buckos ever getting their act together enough to wheedle the perhaps 100 million from the government are slim to none.

    They would need that type of public money figure to convince a consortium of private investors to come up with the rest.

    The GAA are in clover with Croke Park virtually paid off already and new revenue streams coming online next year with Setanta about to break up the RTÉ broadcasting monopoly. They also have over 6 billion euros of assets while the IFA can’t afford to fix a leaky roof.

    The IRFU make most of their cash from internationals, which will take place in Croker and in a couple of years the new Lansdowne Road (or O2 Park or whatever) so it’s happy days for them too.

    The only people who will be left out in the cold are the IFA who in their infinite wisdom seem to have now decided to give the two fingers to the only landlord that would tolerate/can accommodate them.

  • flush

    “The only people who will be left out in the cold are the IFA”

    Thats what you get for chaining closed the gates every football ground in Northern Ireland on a Sunday.

    And the continued refusal of the association to adopt neutral and inclusive emblems at internationals is nothing short of criminal.

  • willowfield

    George

    So the chances of these useless buckos ever getting their act together enough to wheedle the perhaps 100 million from the government are slim to none. They would need that type of public money figure to convince a consortium of private investors to come up with the rest.

    Not so. There already exist two consortia of private investors each prepared to build a stadium in Belfast at no cash cost to the taxpayer, or to the IFA – but on the basis of Belfast City Council providing land.

  • rubin

    ‘but on the basis of Belfast City Council providing land’

    As a Belfast ratepayer, i don’t want my council to give away land worth many millions of pounds.

    I would much prefer if they would provide top class leisure and sporting facilities for the community in the Ravenhill/Ormeau & surrounding areas.

    Imagine if kids from the area actually had access to a swimming pool, for example.

    How cool would that be!

  • al in bangor

    And the continued refusal of the association to adopt neutral and inclusive emblems at internationals is nothing short of criminal.
    Posted by flush on Oct 10, 2007 @ 10:41 PM

    ?

  • kde

    Comparison of stadia.
    The IFA have done a bad job of looking after their customers.

  • Gabrielle

    How about this from Cork GAA for ambition (Irish Examiner)!

    17 October 2007

    Plans for GAA stadium in Cork to rival Croker

    By Paul Kelly
    GAA fans in Munster will get one of the biggest sports stadiums in Europe if proposals for a 60,000-seat replacement for Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh get the blessing of civic leaders ….

    http://www.examiner.ie/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=sport-qqqm=sport-qqqa=sport-qqqid=45505-qqqx=1.asp