Portadown General Manager Mark Beattie confident club can make 'seismic' difference to local community with stadium funding

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​Portadown General Manager Mark Beattie has welcomed Communities Minister Gordon Lyons’ pledge of £36.2million in his new ‘Northern Ireland Football Fund’ and believes the County Armagh club could make a “seismic” difference in their local community if able to benefit from the money.

​In April, Portadown received planning permission from Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council for a proposal which includes replacing the derelict old home stand at the Rectory side of Shamrock Park as well as a new training facility housed within a dome structure, along with the relocation of the pitch and floodlights.

It’s an exciting time for the Ports, who secured promotion back to the top-flight after winning the Championship title last season and with funds set to be released from April 2025 following a “transparent open grant funding competition”, Beattie is confident his club will be well positioned to make immediate use of available money.

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"Our plans are really exciting,” he said. “I'll be honest and say when I looked at the plans when I first started the job I said 'that'll never happen', but the more I've been involved I believe it's now more when, not if and now we've got planning permission it's even more about when, not if.

Portadown General Manager Mark Beattie. PIC: Portadown FCPortadown General Manager Mark Beattie. PIC: Portadown FC
Portadown General Manager Mark Beattie. PIC: Portadown FC

"It's about getting our ducks in a row. Our plans are big...there's no point going for small changes, we want to go the full way.

"The impact we can have in the local area is massive and our ambitions are big.

"I'm not afraid to say we're hamstrung by not having the facilities available to us.

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"We do our best but the level isn't anywhere near what we could do with the funding and the impact we can have is huge.

"If we can get the investment it would allow us to grow the club which would see a benefit to everybody. It's not just about football sometimes but the impact you can have on people around you and we believe if we can get the facilities the benefit will be seismic for our area."

With their dream of a revamped Shamrock Park perhaps moving one step closer after Lyons’ announcement in Belfast on Wednesday afternoon, Beattie is adamant that the benefits would go far beyond just football.

"It'll be everything for everyone around the club (to bring the plans into practice),” he added. “Our club opens for business once every 14 days at the moment and it's not sustainable for any model, be that a business or community one.

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"We want Shamrock to be used every day of the week and for families and smiling faces to be coming in and feeling comfortable, enjoying the space. It's not utilised enough and if we can upgrade it it would mean the world to me and everyone involved."

There’s also an understanding that much more than £36.2million, which was first promised to clubs in Northern Ireland in 2011, will be required across the board.

"He (Lyons) talked about needing more and said in their evidence that £200million is needed, which doesn't surprise me,” added Beattie. “It's good to know he's aware that this pot isn't be-all and end-all and we're hoping that we can show evidence that we can get in early."