FINN HARPS have launched an ambitious plan to make Finn Park available to host games when the League of Ireland resumes.
Harps are seeking to raise €30,000 from a crowd-sourcing initiative with the aim of making significant improvements to Finn Park.
Talks between the Football Association of Ireland and the League’s clubs remain deadlocked with a further meeting planned for this afternoon.
While there has been a suggestion of a behind-closed-doors return to action, Harps’ desire is to be permitted to play their home games in Ballybofey.
“The prospect of playing ‘home’ matches somewhere other than Finn Park would be a significant additional cost both financially and in terms of its practical impact on our mainly part-time players and management and something we wish to avoid if at all possible,” the club said in a statement.
“Playing matches without fans has obvious financial implications, however the loss of income we are dealing with goes far beyond simply a loss of gate receipts, with sponsors impacted and major fundraising plans postponed.”
Harps have been poring over the FAI’s proposals, which involve playing matches without fans in attendance at HSE/public health-compliant stadia.
While that list of venues has not been publicised, Finn Park was not included on the list with Harps now hoping to carry out substantial short-term improvement works to their ground.
With physical distancing measures likely to be a feature of society for some time, there is acceptance at the club that works will be necessary in any event.
The current away dressing room at Finn Park, for instance, has extremely limited floor space and is not viable for use while providing the adequate distancing measures.
Harps are exploring plans to make modifications to the exiting dressing room area and to add the provision of a new temporary dressing room area for the away team, match officials and a medical room.
Harps have set themselves a target of €30,000 from the initiative announced yesterday.
The club said: “The board of directors of Finn Harps FC confirm the desire of the club to see a return to football provided the health and wellbeing of our players and staff, and the financial stability of the club are maintained, and welcome the proactive approach from the FAI to date.
“We will examine the proposals in detail over the coming days and continue dialogue with the FAI and our fellow clubs.”
Harps have been getting a special derogation from the FAI to allow Finn Park to host Premier Division games for some years now.
The dated Navenny Street venue falls short of the licensing criteria but with the club hoping to press on with the development of a new stadium in Stranorlar, football chiefs have been sympathetic.
The temporary measures to be included in the works to Finn Park include adding temporary accommodation, which could be utilised at the new stadium in the future.
So far, the fundraising venture has raised over €4,000. Further details on how to contribute are available on www.finnharps.ie