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21 May 2022

Failure to roll out stadium funding leaves 'exciting plans' at risk

Coleraine FC are among a number of clubs depending on the funding.

Failure to roll out stadium funding leaves 'exciting plans' at risk

Coleraine Showgrounds.

Failure to roll out a promised £40 million stadium funding programme leaves the 'exiciting plans' of local clubs at risk, said a local MLA.

EAST Derry MLA Claire Sugden has said the decision will directly impact regional clubs, including Coleraine FC.

The Sub Regional Stadia Plan for Soccer was first envisaged more than 10 years ago and Ms Sugden said the Communities Minister needed to make good on promises the programme was ‘ready to go’ and deliver the much-needed funding.

“It is very disappointing that the Communities Minister is not progressing the sub-regional stadium funding,” she said.

“It is also a poor excuse to blame the absence of the First and deputy First Minister for this decision.

“I have been seeking updates on this funding for years and each time have been promised it will be forthcoming.”

Ms Sugden said the programme had the potential to directly invest in working class communities.

“This lengthy delay and now uncertainty is a significant blow for local clubs, particularly those outside Belfast,” she continued.

“Clubs were working towards exciting plans which would develop their stadiums towards a community space that is so much more than football."

Ms Sugden said the funding also represented an opportunity to support the local communities for whom the football club is a central pillar.

“Many football grounds, like Coleraine FC, sit within working class areas, so this funding was an opportunity to support local people, strengthen communities and invest in an area, bringing hope and aspiration," she said.

“The Communities Minister and the wider Executive need to make this work. The Minister has said the programme remains ready to go, so all efforts must be made to get past this final hurdle.

“They need to explain the situation to those working towards projects with positive, far reaching impact, as well as continuing to meet with clubs and footballing bodies to find a way of releasing the funds.”

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