Coleraine Football Club are hoping to follow Premiership rivals Crusaders and Cliftonville by installing an artificial pitch at their Showgrounds home.
Chairman Colin McKendry last night claimed the sustainability of the Bannsiders was at risk if they did not improve facilities.
McKendry insists there is an “immediate need” for improvements at their Ballycastle Road home.
Separate plans for the club to move to a new stadium at Rugby Avenue in Coleraine remain in the pipeline, but that project may take several years to realise.
“When you consider the amount of people who participate in the sport of football alone in the Coleraine area, whether competitively or as a leisure activity, it is clear that we are in need of many more multi-use facilities than the Rugby Avenue project will cater for,” McKendry said.
“It is for that reason that Coleraine FC are pursuing avenues to secure support and possible funding for artificial surfaces at Coleraine Showgrounds.”
Bannsiders manager Oran Kearney echoed his chairman’s sentiments, adding that he felt success on the field of play could be impacted upon if facilities did not improve at the Showgrounds.
“You only have to look at the Cliftonville and Crusaders models to imagine what could be achieved in Coleraine. We are already widely recognised as being one of the most active community clubs in the country with numerous initiatives undertaken,” he said.
“Our youth programmes alone attract tens of hundreds of kids of all abilities who are delighted to be associated with Coleraine Football Club. We have the ability to attract the best in local playing and coaching talent. In many ways we have all the basic structures in place to develop a successful team parallel to taking a leading role in the community aspects of the borough.
“However, I have to say that the lack of appropriate facilities could see this all unravel. It would be devastating to all those involved if Coleraine were to allow their talent, best practices and initiatives to be drained to other areas who have suitable facilities in place.”
Coleraine FC’s Community Liaison Officer and Academy Chairman Andy Alcorn said the potential for further community growth within the club was massive.
“We are aware that many of the residents of the Coleraine Borough and beyond have been very complimentary and supportive of the initiatives that we have put in place through our youth and community programmes. The numbers that attend and participate weekly have been quite staggering,” he said.
“We also are very aware that this is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak.
“We have been granted an opportunity on May 7 to present to the full Coleraine Borough Council and we will be asking them as our elected representatives to lobby all our current funding applications. We will also urge them not to put all the hopes of the town in one basket in the form of the Rugby Avenue project. After all there is no guarantee that all of the required private or public funding will be secured, leaving risk, that Coleraine will still have no multi-use facilities.
“If, however, we could secure the financial support which is a fraction of the cost of the council project, we have a location that’s lease will far outlive the lifetime of the new facility, is spade ready and could be completed in eight weeks. This guaranteeing our future programmes and a much needed facility for the people of the Borough.
“It is to that aim that we would urge anyone who feels passionate about this to lobby on our behalf.”