Page last updated at 22:16 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 23:16 UK

IFA 'backs Windsor as NI stadium'

Windsor Park
The IFA is to back plans for the redevelopment of Windsor Park

The Irish Football Association is to back plans for the redevelopment of its international venue at Windsor Park.

The move will be seen as a setback to those hoping to see a new multi-sport national stadium being built.

There had been plans for a new venue to host major fixtures in football, rugby union and gaelic games.

The IFA said it would now be looking at how big the revamped stadium would be as well as the current contract it had with the ground owners Linfield FC.

In a statement, the IFA said:"The Irish FA's Executive Board has agreed in principle to support the redevelopment of Windsor Park as the National Stadium for Northern Ireland.

"The size of the stadium, together with the ownership structure of the stadium and negotiations around the existing contract with Linfield FC were not discussed but the Association will now begin work on these areas and other key elements of the redevelopment project.

"At this stage no further comment will be made."

Proposals for the upgrade of Windsor Park football stadium were revealed to the BBC in June.

Linfield Football Club said a £20m boost from the public purse would lift capacity and address safety issues.

The Stormont government abandoned the former Maze prison site as a shared venue for soccer, rugby and GAA, earlier this year.

Since the Maze plan was shelved, government had asked the three sports for proposals on how facilities might be upgraded.


The Linfield document advanced two proposals.

Option one was termed "an interim fix" at a cost of £3m. The club believe this would refurbish the north and south stands - the stadium's two major spectator areas - and construct some form of new east stand at the railway end of Windsor.

Capacity would remain unchanged at 13,500.

Option two, described as the "long-term fix" would require funding of £20m and see capacity rise to 20,000 to include new south and east stands.

Linfield had indicated they would be prepared to renegotiate its current contract with the IFA for ground use, which has 80 years to run.

A "new arrangement" would replace it, with Linfield suggesting a holding company was formed, complete with a stadium manager and a board including representatives from the IFA and the government body Sport NI.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure was contacted on Monday night regarding the IFA statement, but declined to comment.

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