Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill insists the dream of a new international stadium must not be derailed by IFA in-fighting.
O’Neill, speaking ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Portugal at Windsor Park, believes it is vital for the redevelopment of the old stadium to go ahead in spite of the controversial election of David Martin as the new Deputy-President of the association.
The move has opened up old wounds with the The Department of Culture, Ards and Leisure, who have threatened to reconsider their decision to fund the project.
This development comes three years after Martin’s resignation in the wake of the sacking of former chief executive Howard Wells, which cost the IFA £500,000 in compensation.
With Martin back in office, the £25 million upgrade of Windsor Park could now come under serious threat.
Incredibly, Martin was unsuccessful on previous occasions to nudge his way back into office, having failed a competency test three times. It was put in place as a criteria for personnel occupying senior office at that time. However, that vehicle has since been removed by IFA officers.
O’Neill said: “I do think it is really important that the international team and football in general in Northern Ireland has a stadium we can be proud of, not just for international games, but for local cup finals and underage games. It’s important we bring our stadium up to the standard of what we see elsewhere around the world.
“There has been a lot of work put in by numerous people to get it (the redevelopment process) to where it is at present. Hopefully common sense will prevail.”