This week I have been reading a few different articles around the local game and beyond. But one that has got me thinking and wondering is – ‘the whole Northern Ireland Executives funding in local sport’. I sit back with an open mind and without real bias and try to work out the reason. Why there is so much investment from government sources being pushed towards the Gaelic Athletic Association, (GAA)? Is it a political game to keep both sides of the community happy? I struggle to understand. Also, the non-investment towards the Irish League clubs about stadium improvements. Mick McDermott loves an article about stadium investment. He forgets that he can actually put some of Mr Pour’s millions into the stadium himself.
I will be open and honest from the start; I do not know anything about GAA. For me growing up in and around the streets of Belfast, this was a game that was never played in my community. Not to say that has changed today, but I struggle to come to terms with why there is so much money being invested into Casement Park – the home of Antrim GAA.
The GAA have already been given £62.5m in taxpayers money for the redevelopment of Casement Park. The GAA have stumped up £15m of their own money to boost this. Reports last week are now saying that the GAA need at least £130m to complete the renovation at Casement Park. I don’t get this. I will never be at Casement Park to watch a sporting event and never have.
On the flip side. Windsor Park, the home of football in Northern Ireland. The stadium, which is about to host the UEFA Super Cup final, got an investment of around £26m. This has been put to good use and it is now paying off. International games are regularly being played there, and Irish League games too. Not one question asked about the re-build or extra cash. Now there might be some underlying problems around the Andersonstown Road stadium. Maybe it costs more for labour in and around that area. Maybe the GAA should bring in the same contractor that worked on the National Stadium and try and get the costs down.
Another interesting thing to come out of this saga is the £36m for the rest of the local football clubs. Well, £26m when Glentoran have been promised £10m for the re-development of the Oval. Why? I ask myself that every time I see it. This is the club that will happily try and buy the league and spend £100k plus on players. But yet their manager is forever complaining that the funding has not been forthcoming. How about use your investment and sort your ground out? Look how Larne have done it!
This week the record transfer was broke by the Glens. £100k plus for Shay McCartan from Ballymena United. The whole thing hinged on how much he could train. I remember the same problem with Curtis Allen. They are also now being linked with a move for Crusaders’ Jordon Forsythe along with Larne. We have had the Larne chairman this week come out again and tell us his club would never pay the transfer fees that are reported. But this is the club that is happy to tease players away with a nice signing on fee. If you don’t live in Northern Ireland, we have a special Purple Bricks show house you can live in.
Interesting times in local sport and I wait to see the fall out of the Casement Park soap opera. Also, it will be interesting to see what actual sports I will be able to watch in this £130m multi-functional stadium? Very little I assume. It will also be another busy week in the transfer market as Larne and Glentoran play poker with each other. Who can make the biggest offer for players who will call the full house?