Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Casement Park: GAA president Jarlath Burns ‘ very pessimistic’ over stadium hosting Euro 2028

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Burns said he expected the redevelopment of Casement Park to go ahead but not to the required specification to meet Uefa standards for staging Euro 2028 fixtures.

“Having attended the final of the Europa League in the Aviva, I can see what Uefa brings to a stadium and to an event,” he said on Tuesday.

“West Belfast deserves that and we’re not getting it. It’s just a great pity because the carrot was dangled in front of us and then it was taken away.

“And actually the big loser here is going to be the game of soccer in Northern Ireland society and the economy. The Department for the Economy was waiting to weigh in with all sorts of other things that were going to come from there. It’s just a pity. But we’re still very hopeful and expectant that we’re going to get the funds to make a provincial stadium where we can play our Ulster finals.”

Five games have been earmarked for Casement Park but Burns anticipates that meeting Uefa timelines is going to be difficult.

“The whole project is being run by the Strategic Investment Board and they have been telling us that in order to get the tenders in and to find out what it’s going to cost, it’s going to take six weeks – and then there’s going to have to be another four weeks for appeals to that.

“We’re working away, we’re clearing the site and that. But at the end of the day, it’s Uefa and their timelines are important. It has to be up and running for almost a year before you can actually say that it’s properly functional, so I’m now pessimistic that the Euros will be played in Casement Park.”

In response to Burns’ comments, a Department for Communities spokesperson said: “NI Executive funding was allocated for the redevelopment of Casement Park in 2011 and remains in place.

“Funding for a Euros enabled Casement Park has yet to be clarified by all partners.”

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