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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.

The 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.”

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.

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