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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 17:56 GMT
IFA to discuss Maze stadium plan
IFA president Jim Boyce
Jim Boyce and his IFA colleagues have a big decision to make
The prospects for the proposed stadium at the Maze could become clearer after the Irish Football Association's executive meets on Thursday evening.

An IFA sub-committee will deliver a report on the proposed Maze project to the association's 17-man executive.

The football, rugby and GAA governing bodies all must give their backing for the project to go ahead.

The government wants an agreement in principle from all three sporting bodies before the end of January.

Sports Minister David Hanson has repeatedly said that there is "no plan B" in terms of the stadium proposal and that if the sporting bodies fail to sign up to the Maze venue, the plan will be shelved.

It is unlikely that the IFA will make its official decision on whether to back the Maze plan at Thursday's meeting.

However, the meeting could prove a crucial stage of the IFA's decision-making process in the matter.

There have been reports of widespread dissatisfaction among Northern Ireland football supporters about the location of the proposed new stadium.

NI Sports Minister David Hanson
Sports Minister David Hanson has dismissed other mooted locations

However, a Mori opinion poll conducted on behalf of the IFA Maze sub-committee has signalled broad support for the project.

In the poll of householders throughout Northern Ireland, 23 per cent of respondents were strongly in favour of the Maze project, 43 per cent were in favour with 12 per cent against and six per cent strongly against.

Some football supporters argue that the proposed 42,000 would lead to a lack of atmosphere at Northern Ireland games, the majority of which, would struggle to attract 20,000 fans.

However, a government source told BBC Sport on Monday that the nature of the new stadium's design would ensure that these fears would be "groundless".

This would involve closing off the upper tiers which is customary at many of the most recently-built stadiums in the world.

In recent months, plans mooting Ormeau Park and the former Mayfield Leisure Centre as alternative sites for the stadium have been aired but the government continues to insist that the Maze site remains the only viable option.

The government already owns the site where the Maze prison was previously situated.

If the new stadium is built, it would be in line to host a number of football games in the 2012 Olympic tournament.

Ormeau stadium plans accelerated
21 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
IFA nearing crunch Maze decision
18 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Rivals to Maze stadium dismissed
16 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland
Bigger stadium is planned for NI
20 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland

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