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Council fears it will miss out on hosting women’s tournament

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An urgent meeting is being sought by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council with the organisers of an international football tournament over the hosting of the new women’s section of the Statsports SupercupNI.

In a letter to the borough council, the organisers said it “had to approach another funder for the additional financial support” in a bid to expand the tournament in 2020 to include a women’s section after requests made to the local authority and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council failed to produce any extra funding.

“As a result, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council agreed to become a partner and the women’s section games will be played at venues in their area, ” the letter stated.

“Availability of suitable accommodation has always been a problem and we appreciate the offer you have made for your economic development team to work with us to increase the opportunities to access additional hotel accommodation in your area in the future,” the letter continued.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has stated that the women’s competition, due to have been held last August, was expected to attract 3,500 visitors and 740 participants and generate an estimated revenue of £800,000.
Speaking at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey previously, Antrim DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop said that he was happy to propose that Antrim and Newtownabbey sponsors the event to the tune of £30,000.

He said that the tournament, formerly known as the Milk Cup, has been of “great benefit to the north coast”.

He went on to say that Antrim and Newtownabbey can provide facilities which are “second to none”.

Ulster Unionist Macedon Councillor Robert Foster commented at the time: “The IFA isn’t contributing to this. Once again, the heavy lifting is left to the constituent councils.”

The organisers have stated that they are now “very busy planning” for the 2021 event, of which Mid and East Antrim says it is a “key sponsor”.

As well as using Ballymena Showgrounds and pitches in Ahoghill, Broughshane, Clough and Kells, discussions are to be “progressed early in January” with Mid and East Antrim’s Director of Operations over the possible use of venues in Larne and Carrickfergus.

Larne Lough DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen has requested an urgent meeting between Mid and East Antrim Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston and Chief Executive Anne Donaghy with the organisers of the Statsports SuperCup NI to determine if Mid and East Antrim will be hosting the women’s section.

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