Category: Archive

FAI stadium plan taking heat from within ranks

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — When the Irish government announced plans to build a national stadium at a cost of £280 million, serious questions were raised about soccer’s ambition to plow ahead with its own proposed stadium. With a spectacular redevelopment of Croke Park already under way, was there room for three major stadiums in Dublin? And would all three be viable?

In fairness to soccer’s governing body, the FAI, there was nothing to prevent a private organization from going its own way despite the government intitiative, but now reservations from within association itself have threatened to scupper the FAI’s proposed ground to the west of the capital.

Taking most of the flak is the association’s chief executive, Bernard O’Byrne, who has been the driving force behind the plan to develop a 45,000 all-seater soccer stadium at a projected cost of £65 million.

His critics from within the FAI are not convinced that a sports association with cash reserves of just £5 million — £2.5 million of which has already been spent on plans for the stadium — should be making a solo run when the government has promised a state-of-the-art facility by 2005.

It seems that O’Bryne’s detractors want him to enter into negotiations with the government rather than press on with a plan which has raised serious financial questions.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

"We’re actually waiting for a reply from the government

at the moment," said O’Bryne, "but we are anxious to meet and discuss a broad range of issues and, of course, Bertie Ahern may want to talk to us about the National Stadium. What I’m saying is that we’re not going in to open negotiations."

However, at a fractious FAI Board of Management meeting last week, at least three senior figures spoke out against the proposed soccer stadium and there was also criticism of the FAI’s public-relations firm. One board member claimed that if there had been a vote on the stadium "it would only have been passed by 11-9."

That is the level of division within the FAI at present. The assocation appears strapped for cash and as yet it has not been granted planning permission for the new stadium.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese