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Extra time looms for football centre

Wednesday, 17th April, 2019 5:02pm

The Government must reassure the people of Cork that the future of football in the Munster area is secure.

That’s according to Glanmire Councillor Kieran McCarthy who met with John Delaney in 2015 and was involved in the approval of the 30 acre, €10 million development of a centre of football excellence in Glanmire.

Cllr McCarthy told the Cork Independent of his fears that, in light of the Government’s recent suspension of funding to the FAI, the proposed project may be subject to long delays.

“What I would be concerned with is, now that the minister has finally been forced out into the open and has come out with an opinion, that this is going to get very political and that the whole thing is going to be drawn out,” said Cllr McCarthy.

“Obviously Delaney and the board have to go. It’ll have to be a total cleanout. What I’d like to see is very fast action and that this is resolved very quickly. And also that there is a public commitment given by the Government that the centre is not going to be jeopardised and that the people of Cork are not going to lose out because of what’s going on,” he added.

Cllr McCarthy said that the proposed plan for the site, which includes seven pitches, a classroom, a gymnasium, dressing rooms, physiotherapy, and medical and team rooms, is “huge” in terms of the development of Munster football.

“The aim here, however ambitious, is to get away from young fellas having to dream of going to England to play football, and that they’ll have it here on their doorstep. And hopefully the day will come that we’ll have our own professional leagues here where people can aspire to playing in their own town and their own county and their own country, and not have to go abroad for it,” he said.

Work on the project was expected to begin in 2017 and projected to take approximately two and a half years to complete, however work has yet to begin at the site.

“There’s no sod turned. Is it going to be the same as the events centre? How many times is it going to be unveiled before we see action? Do whatever you have to do to wake the FAI up. Everyone agrees with that. But not at this price,” said Cllr McCarthy.

In a statement given at Tuesday’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Minister for Sport Shane Ross, TD, said that all Government funding to the FAI will be suspended until there is “real change and reform” seen.

In an open letter addressed to Minister Ross, FAI President Donal Conway apologised for “any embarrassment caused” by the recent controversies and stated that an in-depth and “forensic” review of the association’s affairs will be undertaken by Mazars.

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