Thursday 19 October 2017

McAuley concern at IFA appointment

Gareth McAuley. pictured, has expressed concerns over David Martin's re-appointment
Gareth McAuley. pictured, has expressed concerns over David Martin's re-appointment

Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has expressed concern at the controversial re-appointment of David Martin to the Irish Football Association board.

Martin has been elected as the first deputy president just three years after he left the post of treasurer - a move which could yet have implications on the redevelopment of Windsor Park.

Martin and the then IFA president Raymond Kennedy departed in 2010 when former chief executive Howard Wells successfully pursued a £500,000 unfair dismissal case against the governing body.

The departures of Martin and Kennedy came after sports minister Nelson McAusland deemed the IFA unfit for purpose and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is thought to be uneasy about the former's return to prominence.

That is particularly relevant at the moment, with DCAL funding accounting for a large amount of the £25million needed to redevelop Windsor Park.

A group of fans staged a protest against Martin's proposed reappointment ahead of last month's World Cup qualifier against Russia and now West Brom defender McAuley, a senior and influential figure in the dressing room, has weighed in.

His interjection consisted of a single concise tweet, but the mere fact of a current international becoming involved in the debate is important.

McAuley wrote: "The election of David Martin is a very worrying development for Northern Irish football."

IFA president Jim Shaw has played down the issue, but intends to keep in close contact with DCAL over the Windsor Park project.

"No one has approached me with strong feelings about the election of David Martin and the fact is that there was a democratic process in place and David was elected," he said.

"At this moment in time there is nothing to suggest funding will not be forthcoming.

"The biggest task the IFA has at this moment is to ensure the new stadium is built. Government funding is needed for the project and of course it is a concern if they money is not assured.

"We will continue to work with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure to ensure it does happen.

"DCAL will have its own views but we talk informally on a regular basis and I'm sure there will be more discussions sooner rather than later."

Press Association

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