GAA president Jarlath Burns says Casement will not host Euros…

The Casement Park debacle continues. The project’s great hope was hosting games for Euro 2028, but now it looks like that will not happen.

From Colm Keys in the BelTel:

GAA president Jarlath Burns is resigned to the prospect of the Euro 2028 championships not being played in Casement Park.
Burns, speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland hurling championship at the Michael Cusack Centre in Carran, Co Clare, said he did not now envisage games being played in Belfast as part of the tournament.

“It’s not looking as if we’re going to get the Euros,” lamented Burns, focusing on the impact its loss could potentially have on the city.

The redevelopment of Casement Park would still proceed, he envisaged, but not to the specification required to meet UEFA standards for hosting a tournament on that scale.

“Having attended the final of the Europa League in the Aviva, I can see what UEFA brings to a stadium and to an event,” he said. “West Belfast deserves that and we’re not getting it. It’s just a great pity because the carrot was dangled in front of us and then it was taken away.

“And actually the big loser here is going to be the game of soccer in Northern Ireland society and the economy. The Department for the Economy was waiting to weigh in with all sorts of other things that were going to come from there. It’s just a pity. But we’re still very hopeful and expectant that we’re going to get the funds to make a provincial stadium where we can play our Ulster finals.”

The Casement Park redevelopment has been mired in delays for more than a decade but in 2022, after revised planning permission was granted and legal challenges overcome, it became part of the British and Irish bid for the Euro 2028 which was successful last October when Turkey, the only other bidder, withdrew.

But further delays over how much the final cost will be and who will bridge the widening funding gap with Euro 2028 in mind have pushed the start date back further.

Some estimates have put the cost of a UEFA-ready stadium at over £300m and while the British Government had initially suggested that they would provide the money, that position has cooled in recent months.

“The whole project is being run by the Strategic Investment Board and they have been telling us that in order to get the tenders in and to find out what it’s going to cost, it’s going to take six weeks,” explained Burns.

“And then there’s going to have to be another four weeks for appeals to that. We’re working away, we’re clearing the site and that. But at the end of the day, it’s UEFA and their timelines are important.

“It has to be up and running for almost a year before you can actually say that it’s properly functional, so I’m now pessimistic that the Euros will be played in Casement Park,” he declared.

Spending tens of millions to host 5 football games never seemed a good use of money to me.

Jarlath Burns is a clever fella, he needs to step back and see how this project fits into the wider aims of Ulster GAA. He should appoint someone like Peter Quinn to look into the whole issue. Peter was the mastermind behind the Croke Park redevelopment and is one sharp cookie.

I think they should opt for a scaled-back Casement Park and use the money saved to improve facilities at other grounds around Ulster. If you are in a cold changing room in a rural area with no showers, you could understand that resentment could build about a Stadium that goes unused 90% of the time, sucking up all the cash. Piling so much money into one ground just seems unfair to the wider Ulster GAA community and could be a financial millstone around the necks of Ulster GAA for decades. At the very least, they need to heed the lessons of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh redevelopment in Cork, which has gotten the nickname Páirc Uí Chaos.

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