FINN HARPS’ Board of Directors is to sit down with its Stadium Committee and public representatives in the coming weeks to demand answers on the club’s new stadium.
Since late 2014, work on the new Finn Harps stadium in Stranorlar has stalled, leaving fans fearing that the development could come to a permanent stop.
Harps’ stadium move was first mentioned to shareholders at the AGM of the Finn Harps Co-Operative Society in 2004, though there have been significant halts to the progress.
Now in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland, Harps receive a derogation from the FAI that allows them to use dilapidated Finn Park.
“It is of paramount importance that something happens to get the contractor back on site in 2017,” Harps Commercial Officer Aidan Campbell told a Fans Forum in the Balor Theatre tonight, attended by around 50 supporters.
“A number of us have said that we will give it this year and there has to be people back on site. The Football Club project that we are aiming for here depends on that.
“It is the future of the club. Let me make it clear, the stadium committee is doing all they can.
“The Board and the Stadium Committee are totally committed to getting the project up and running again.”
A deal was struck with developers – Joseph McMenamin and Sons – which will see them granted ownership of the current Finn Park.
In 2014, supporters witnessed significant works carried out on the development and a basic structure of the main stand can be seen from the Railway Road in Stranorlar.
Board members held a brief meeting before Christmas with representatives from the Stadium Committee, although details, even those given to Board members, appear to be sketchy at best.
“We haven’t had one specific issue that we’re made aware of,” Mr Campbell said.
“The Stadium Committee said they met with local representatives who are lobbying hard. The only blockage is with delay in drawdowns and there is no issue with the contractor.
“The contractor will go back on site as soon as the money is drawn down.”
Two supporters in the audience noted that the process of drawing down such grant aid usually involved the developing club spending the money first and then drawing down the money.
Harps’ ‘matching funding’ for the ambitious development, located next to the Finn Valley Centre in Stranorlar, was in the form of the existing stadium on Navenny Street.
“The money is allocated and the contracts are signed,” Mr Campbell noted.
“We know of a number of other projects that are waiting on drawdowns, but we know of a number of others that started after ours.”
The club’s Board has invited Stadium Committee members to address supporters and answer their queries, but they have been declined.
Mr Campbell added: “The Stadium Committee has always been separate from the club. The good reason for that is that development money or grant money is kept away from the day-to-day running of the club.
“We know that the project was put back a lot of years with the recession and also there is a very difficult paperwork trail which the Stadium Committee is stuck with. It was a very complicated deal.
“We met with the Stadium Committee before Christmas and said to the guys that we had got to the stage where we had to go to the supporters and tell them what we feel.”