Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on sport Chris Andrews TD has called on the government to jump on the momentum in Irish football to fund the facilities of the future.
The TD for Dublin Bay South said he hoped that the government will include the new Finn Harps FC Stadium in the next Large Scale Sporting Infrastructure Fund to finally deliver the project.
It comes as news emerged from Fianna Fáil today that the Department of Sport is in a position to enter a provisional Grant Agreement with the club to build a state-of-the-art stadium in Stranorlar with a capacity of 5,500. This follows earlier news that the club was awarded €3.9m under the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) for the project by the Government.
The cost of the Donegal Community Stadium is expected to be near to €8 million after plans were revised last year to cut costs.
The FAI Facility Investment Vision and Strategy, published today, stated that League of Ireland stadia are “pretty much in the same condition as they were 20 years ago – sub-standard, often dangerous broadcast facilities with no F&B or fit-for-purpose toilet facilities for fans.”
“We believe that real and sustainable growth for our League can only come from significant and targeted investment into these core facilities which in turn will create a virtuous circle of developments in terms of overall attendances, new fans to the game and increased revenues to further professionalise our sport.”
The report added that every proposed development in the next 15 years will factor in sustainability at the outset to maximise positive environmental and social impacts.
Deputy Andrews encouraged the government to study and engage with the FAI’s report, and added that there is now a pressing need for the government to work hand in glove with the association and local authorities to plot a way forward to develop the high standard of facilities that our sportspeople and spectators deserve.
Teachta Andrews said: “Despite decades of failing to invest in facilities, we are now in an incredibly exciting time for Irish football.
“The success of Ireland qualifying for the Women’s World Cup next month for the very first time is a momentous achievement that has seen a massive surge in public and media interest in the women’s game that will undoubtedly inspire increased participation in football among young girls right across the country.
“The knock-on effect of that success is clear. In the past three months alone, we have seen the League of Ireland Women’s Premier Division attendance record broken twice, by Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.
“But sold-out signs at League of Ireland games, while positive, show that many of our stadiums are no longer fit for purpose.
“As well as working with the FAI to plot a way forward to develop quality stadiums and training facilities into the future, the likes of the projects to redevelop Dalymount Park and construct the Donegal Community Stadium have dragged on for too long, and I hope that they will be included in the next Large Scale Sporting Infrastructure Fund to finally deliver for both Bohemians and Finn Harps.”