Fans press for Windsor Park clarity

Work to demolish the damaged West Stand at Belfast's Windsor Park is under way
Work to demolish the damaged West Stand at Belfast's Windsor Park is under way

Fans of the Northern Ireland football team have demanded clarity from the Irish Football Association on why it is refusing to disclose the reasons for the collapse of the west stand at Windsor Park.

In March large cracks were found in the stand – just days after it had been packed with supporters to see Northern Ireland defeat Finland in a crucial Euro qualifier – and a decision was made to demolish it.

William Humphrey

William Humphrey

On Thursday it was revealed that IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson had written to MLAs: “The ultimate cause of the failure of the stand is still to be determined and our advice is not to issue copies of any report outside of the project team.”

But DUP MLA William Humphrey said he wanted to know “exactly when the stand moved, why it moved, what was the cause?”.

He also wanted to know who would pay for the replacement, the BBC reported.

Sinn Fein MLA Rosie McCorley added: “The IFA need to be open and transparent. If the report isn’t made public, people will want to know why.”

Last month Rory Miskelly, who is overseeing the stadium project, said work at an adjacent leisure centre was among the causes.

The IFA said in a statement on Thursday night that the damage is currently “subject to ongoing discussions between the Irish FA, the association’s insurers and contractors, our specialist technical team, other interested parties and insurers”.

“It would at this stage be unhelpful and inappropriate to speculate on the outcome of these discussions.”

But the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs said that many fans would be concerned at the lack of transparency.

“We would welcome further disclosure from the Irish FA in relation to this issue,” a spokesman said. “Whilst we appreciate that there may be valid reasons why more information cannot be released at this stage, there needs to be an explanation as to why that cannot be made public.

“If there are no legal impediments to prevent the disclosure of the information, then it would not be unreasonable to expect it to be released, so that Northern Ireland fans and indeed the wider public can be reassured.”