Ní Chuilín Outlines Major Investment Plans For Local Football

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Plans for a £36million boost for local football moved a step closer today with Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín announcing a 12 week consultation exercise.

Speaking in the Assembly, the Minister said that all those with an interest in soccer and the wider public were encouraged to give their views on proposals to upgrade soccer facilities in the north.

dn_screenThe consultation document published today is based on Executive agreed priorities and includes proposals for the funding of projects across five separate strands.

The Minister said: “The Executive agreed in March 2011 that £36million should be allocated for football stadia development at sub-regional level and that this should be taken forward as a priority area of spend in the next Comprehensive Spending Review period.

“The Executive’s agreement was informed by input from the sector in 2011 and the consultation will set out the Executive agreed priorities. I understand that further thinking has been developed since then. I would encourage all interested parties to fully engage and submit consultation responses. I will consider all responses before opening the final Programme for applications.

“This is a good day for football in the north. The last decade or so has witnessed a marked improvement in the enhancement of stadia following years of historic underinvestment and it is important that a broad range of clubs have the opportunity to benefit.

“I’m aware that football clubs have waited patiently for this day and I ask them and the wider public to have their say. I want this consultation to be meaningful and inclusive as the responses I receive will help formulate thinking and shape the criteria ahead of the commencement of the application process next year.”

McKevitt welcomes belated football consultation

SDLP Culture, Arts and Leisure, Karen McKevitt MLA has welcomed the belated launch of the consultation on the Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer. The consultation has been launched to address the strategic needs of soccer in the North of Ireland four years after the programme was endorsed by the Executive. In response to the Minister’s statement in the Assembly today, Karen McKevitt MLA said: “I am relieved that the consultation exercise is finally underway. We are now four and a half years after the programme was endorsed by the Executive and the lack of movement has done little to allay the concerns of those setting the strategic direction for soccer in the North of Ireland. “While it is welcome that all projects must be completed by March 2018 many will be concerned that this statement does not include a timeframe for the application process and project selection process. “As the consultation will end on the 22nd February and the Department will then need time to give due consideration to the responses, the Minister must advise if the programme will be progressed any further prior to the end of the Mandate. I encourage all soccer clubs to have their say by responding to the consultation.”

The five strands in the programme are as follows:

* Strand 1 Safe Stadia * Strand 2 Significant Sub-Regional Stadia (designated venues only) * Strand 3 IFA Championship clubs (non-designated venues) * Strand 4 National Training Centre * Strand 5 Intermediate and Junior football

There is a requirement in each strand for the applicant to provide at least 20% of partnership funding.

The Minister concluded by saying that successful delivery of the programme will have significant benefits for the football and wider community.

She said: “I am committed to the creation of a confident, informed and healthy society and the Sub-Regional Stadia Programme for Soccer will provide the opportunity for clubs to develop their facilities as a means of improving the sustainability and viability of the game locally. I look forward to progressing this in the month ahead.”

The consultation period runs until Monday 22 February 2016.

Notes on the consultation:

Strand 1: Safe Stadia

· Purpose: To provide funding towards the achievement of safe stadia. The stadium should be suitable for hosting high level competition matches with a moderate capacity level of 6,000 to 8,000 persons.

· Budget: A budget of circa £10million will be made available for this strand.

· Maximum Award: The maximum award available is up to £10million.

Strand 2: Significant Sub-Regional Stadia (Designated Venues only)

* Purpose: To provide sub-regional stadia which can sit at the hub of key communities and can offer quality football facilities and community facilities which bring revenues into the club tenants, thus making football in these areas more sustainable. A Challenge Fund principle will apply.

* Budget: A budget of circa £17million will be made available for this strand.

* Maximum Award: The maximum award available is up to £3million.

Strand 3: IFA Championship Clubs (not designated under the Safety at Sports Grounds (NI) Order)

* Purpose: To provide funding to improve safety provision at soccer venues. A Challenge Fund principle will apply.

* Budget: A budget of circa £3million will be made available for this strand.

* Maximum Award: The maximum award available is up to £500,000.

Stand 4: National Training Centre

* Purpose: To provide funding towards the creation of a purpose built flagship National Training Centre to support current talent and nurture future generations.

* Budget: A budget of circa £3million will be made available for this strand.

* Maximum Award: The maximum award available is up to £3million.

Strand 5: Intermediate and Junior Football (A single high quality facility)

* Purpose: To provide funding via targeted programmes, in partnerships with the local councils and schools/colleges, in order to deliver key sporting centres in local communities at an intermediate and junior level.

* Budget: A budget of circa £3million will be made available for this strand.

* Maximum Award: The maximum award available is up to £3million.

The following soccer grounds are designated under the Safety at Sports Grounds (NI) Order: Ballymena Showgrounds * Riada Stadium, Ballymoney * The Oval, Belfast * Seaview, Belfast * Solitude, Belfast * DC Park, Belfast * Windsor Park, Belfast *Taylors Avenue, Carrickfergus * Coleraine Showgrounds * Mourneview Park, Lurgan * Shamrock Park, Portadown * The Brandywell, Derry * Inver Park, Larne * Dixon Park, Ballyclare 8 Newry Showgrounds

The consultation document and response form can be downloaded at the following link: www.dcalni.gov.uk/consultations/dcal-sub-regional-stadia-programme-soccer

The consultation period runs until 17.00pm on 22 February 2016.

Responses can be made online or in writing to the Stadia Branch, DCAL, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7EG or by email to:

stadiumteam@dcalni.gov.uk

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