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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Support for McMenemy after 'disgrace' comment

Facilities at Windsor Park criticised

The football authorities have come out in support of NI manager Lawrie McMenemy after he reportedly described Windsor Park as a "disgrace to international football".

The comments were the lead story in Wednesday's Belfast News Letter, under the headline "Lawrie puts the boot in".

The article also referred to the "controversial" decision to award the manager a new three-year contract "despite a run of disappointing results".

[ image: John Lavery: Classic case of
John Lavery: Classic case of "biting the hand that feeds you"
In an interview with BBC NI, another leading sports journalist, Belfast Telegraph Sports Editor John Lavery said: "It is a classic case of biting the hand that feeds you.

"I mean Lawrie is hardly in a position at the minute to curry favour with the Northern Ireland fans with his performances on the pitch. These comments couldn't have come at a worse time, especially when people are divided as to whether he should get a new contract or not."

But the Irish Football Association described the News Letter article as "typical sensationalist journalism".

A statement added: "Lawrie was merely emphasising the IFA's longstanding policy of improving facilities."

Linfield, the owners of Windsor Park, have yet to comment officially on the matter.

Ground improvements

The News Letter report says McMenemy was speaking at a fringe meeting of the the Labour Party Conference.

Responding to a question about the lack of money available for ground improvements in English non-league football, he said: "If you think they are bad here, you should go to Northern Ireland.

"There is a national stadium in England, in Scotland and in Wales, but the national team in Northern Ireland have to play at the home of an Irish League side, Linfield.

"It's a good ground for a club team, but for an international stadium it's a disgrace. I am almost ashamed to bring visiting teams to play here."

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