#SBS24 this month in Manchester! Welcome Co-op Live/OVG, RCD Mallorca, Verizon, DWF Law, Hearts, Sunderland AFC, Wembley Stadium, Oxford United, Juventus FC, Croke Park, Stadio Algarve, Everbank Stadium, Kulture City, PAM, Duracell/Procell, Trusts Arena, Suncorp Stadium... Join them
Driving your revenues, sustainability and fan experience: #SBS24 – 15th annual TheStadiumBusiness Summit in Manchester on 17-18-19 June

Design & Development

Funding plan approved for Northern Ireland football stadiums

Featured image credit: Department for Communities

Gordon Lyons, Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland, has announced a financial package of £36.2m (€42.5m/$46.1m) to improve football facilities in the country.

Lyons confirmed plans for The Northern Ireland Football Fund, formerly the Sub Regional Stadia Programme for Football, during an event at Belfast’s Windsor Park yesterday (Wednesday).

The programme will be delivered in phases, using a transparent open grant funding competition. Clubs, councils, governing bodies and other partners will be required to make financial contributions in the form of partnership funding to all strands of the programme.

The club investment strand will open for applications in this financial year and the first funding awards to grassroots clubs will also begin to roll out.

The funding plan was first proposed in 2011. In February 2022, then-Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey clarified that the project remained on the agenda but could not be passed as it required Executive sign-off. This has now been given.

Lyons said: “I am pleased to give ministerial approval to The Northern Ireland Football Fund and to unlock for the first time this Executive commitment to modernising footballing facilities at every level in communities across Northern Ireland.

“I am seizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the game locally. For players at performance and grassroots level I want to see better facilities. I want to see improved accessibility for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, both as participants and supporters.

“I want fans now, and in the future, to have the best experience at their local club. And looking forward, I want to foster our footballing stars of the future with the creation of a National Training Centre.”

Following Lyons’ announcement, NIFL Premiership club Glentoran welcomed the news and expressed confidence that its plans are in alignment with the minister’s vision of a “legacy project” for East Belfast and football across Northern Ireland. Glentoran is set to be one of the main benefactors from the funding plan.

Glentoran said in a statement: “As a club we have been working closely with Department of Communities officials and will continue to do so. We assure the Glentoran family that our club’s plans are at an advanced stage, and we look forward to developing a facility that will not only benefit Glentoran and football, but also provide a major community asset that will have a very positive social impact on groups and individuals within East Belfast.”

The funding announcement comes amid continued uncertainty around Belfast’s Casement Park, which is set to undergo redevelopment work ahead of serving as a host venue during UEFA Euro 2028.

Casement Park is due to be Northern Ireland’s sole host stadium during Euro 2028, which the country will co-host alongside England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

The project was originally intended to cost £77.5m but reports have suggested it could now reach more than £300m. UEFA is hoping that the stadium will be open by mid-2027 to ensure that it can host test events before the European Championship the following year.