“If the Executive took a needs based approach rather than a politically expedient route…”

As BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport says of the announced Northern Ireland Executive approval of a “package of circa £138million [to] be used to upgrade regional stadiums at Windsor Park, Ravenhill and Casement Park, and take forward sub regional stadium developments for football.”

…one aspect of the announcement which is questionable is its very symmetry. If the Executive took a needs based approach rather than a politically expedient route, would both the GAA and Soccer require exactly £61.4 million? I know it’s a sporting cliche to talk about a “game of two halves”, but is this the sporting equivalent of the judgment of Solomon?

It stirs memories of the symmetrical solution to the Victims Commissioner dillemma – we can’t agree on one so let’s appoint four.

Indeed.  And remember

But never fear, if you disagree in the future with an OFMDFM decision, you don’t need to turn to the courts, because our ministers, as Mr Justice Gillen notes “are accountable to the Assembly where they are likely to be questioned and scrutinised”. And we all know just how effective the Assembly has been at carrying out that job in the past.

Well, it’s “a fragile flower which requires careful tending…”

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  • Neil

    Sports should live or die on their own feet. If they can’t afford to upgrade then don’t.

  • The Word

    This would seem to be a revealing sign of a nervous executive going toward election time, and one that has been well-schooled by the UK government in attempting to buy people off.

    I suppose they need to stick together.

  • Sports should live or die on their own feet. If they can’t afford to upgrade then don’t

    I would upgrade that to *culture* full stop.
    Drop a % of our income tax rate and let the individual choose which of their favourite leisure pursuits they want the liberated cash directed to.

  • captainshamrock

    The three sports bodies concerned did outline their stadia capacity needs when they signed the Maze Stadium heads of agreement. The GAA agreed to bring 150,000 specators annually, the IFA 8,0000, and Ulster Rugby 40,000.

    If we accept the sports bodies’ figures as a measure of need, that should result in the GAA getting 55% of the pot, the IFA 30% and Ulster Rugby 15%.

    Going by the headline figures, the IFA have got more than they would reasonably have been expected to. All the moreso when we find out the additional £36M is for subsidiary ground development. The derisory Irish League attendances surely don’t merit such an additional amount.

    I do think that there could be an element of smoke and mirrors here by McCausland to detract from the amount given to the GAA. The additional £36M is to be spread over 6 years.

    I suspect that this £36M has been tagged on to this announcement to please the DUP’s owc / anti-GAA base by making it loom like themmuns aren’t getting more than us. My expectation would be that other sports, gaelic games and rugby included, will get similar funding over the next 6 years, but that wasn’t announced yesterday.

  • joeCanuck

    It’s fairly easy to argue that the stadia should stand on their own feet. Who built or paid for them in the first place?

  • al

    Ulster Rugby asked for £15m to upgrade Ravinhill and that’s what they got. Fair enough.

    GAA have got what they need to upgrade Casemount Park which is again fair enough.

    As for the IFA they have now got the funds to repair Windsor Park. Fair enough.

    However they will also get £36m which is to be spent upgrading “a number of stadiums located in Northern Ireland at various levels of the game and setting up a national training centre.”

    Why can’t there be a national training centre for all three sports?

    Upgrading football stadiums is all very well but surely the investment would be better spent attracting greater crowds and improving the image of football rather than getting nice new turnstiles or seats. The IFA don’t really need all that money for stadia but they’ll take it.

    The equal allocation to the IFA and GAA is a sad part of politics here. One side can’t be seen to be given more than the other.

  • joeCanuck

    The best possible training centre would be a distributed one. Take some derelict sites and pave them over for places where kids can kick balls about.

  • aquifer

    Buying votes at about £5 a pop, spending our money to keep us divided.

    This money would have lowered corporation tax and enabled us to compete internationally.

    Now we gotta watch ourselves being beaten most of the time.

    Sammy the DUP court jester, and the joke’s on us.

  • Pelican22

    “Upgrading football stadiums is all very well but surely the investment would be better spent attracting greater crowds and improving the image of football rather than getting nice new turnstiles or seats. The IFA don’t really need all that money for stadia but they’ll take it.”

    Al, surely by upgrading the stadiums this will attract more people and improve the image. Many stadia in NI fail to attract large crowds due to poor facilities. Due to the poor state of repair of many grounds, capacity has been limited as a result of Health and Safety legislation. This money will hopefully improve the situation, providing better facilities and thus attracting more spectators.

    I think it is a shame; however, that other sports and their porposals have been overlooked such as plans for a cycling velodrome and much needed improvements to the Mary Peters Track in Belfast.