Thursday 19 April 2018

Windsor Park funding under review

Funding for the redevelopment of Windsor Park is under review
Funding for the redevelopment of Windsor Park is under review

The planned redevelopment of Windsor Park is up in the air after Northern Ireland sports minister Caral Ni Chuilin confirmed government funding for the project is under review.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure had pledged a large proportion of the £25million needed to renovate the ground, which is home to Linfield as well as hosting Northern Ireland's national side.

Work is due to start in February but Ni Chuilin has suggested that money may not be forthcoming if the Irish Football Association cannot prove they uphold "appropriate governance".

That is understood to be a reference to the return to prominence of former IFA treasurer David Martin, who was recently elected as first deputy president.

Martin left the IFA board in 2010 alongside then president Raymond Kennedy after former chief executive Howard Wells successfully pursued a £500,000 unfair dismissal case against the association.

Ni Chuilin's predecessor Nelson McAusland duly registered formal misgivings about the running of the IFA and Martin's re-emergence has apparently given DCAL cause for concern.

"Any organisation that is in receipt of funding from government has an appropriate responsibility to ensure governance is upheld," read a statement from DCAL.

"DCAL (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure) is working with the IFA to review the implications of recent changes to their articles of association."

BBC Sport also reported that Ni Chuilin had told the Northern Ireland Assembly: "I need to be assured that appropriate governance and accountability structures have been maintained.

"Until that happens, I can't sign off on any agreement."

Last week IFA president Jim Shaw had attempted to play down the issue, but insisted he would continue to monitor the situation.

"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 their 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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