• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

FAI requires close to a billion euros to transform football infrastructure

ByMedia desk

Jun 14, 2023 ,

In its strategic analysis and vision for the next 15 years, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) details that it requires EUR 863m to modernise facilities and standards in Ireland. FAI CEO Jonathan Hill and chairman Roy Barrett presented the vision earlier today.

The FAI concedes that stadia and training facilities in the country have fallen behind those elsewhere in Europe. Under-investment is much to blame.

Hill and Barrett presented the case for what they called game-changing improvements for the sport at grassroots, League of Ireland and international level.

According to the vision, the FAI will need EUR 426 million for infrastructure at grassroots level, EUR 390 million for the infrastructure of its leagues and an additional EUR 47 million for its national teams.

The FAI has asked the Irish Government to make money available, with 20% of it being funded through ‘local project partners,’ including local governments.

The money would cater for the installation of new pitches, upgrades to existing pitches, new and upgraded clubhouses as well as further multi-sport facilities with a community focus.

An audit revealed that 20% of club’s spend on pitch maintenance is less than EUR 1,000 per year.

Interestingly, the report points out that of the 40 best stadiums in Ireland, just three host football matches.

National training centre

The FAI views the current National Training Centre AT Abbotstown as “falling far short of the standard seen in many other European Associations.” In addition to a shortage of dressing room facilities as well as the absence of high-performance, medical and sports science facilities, they also describe the playing surfaces as “below standard” and say that many require replacing.

High-quality standard facilities such as FIFA quality pitches have now been proposed.

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill said: “The goal of this strategy is to realise football’s full potential within our grassroots communities, deliver a new future for our League of Ireland, and inspire future generations by creating the environment to support and produce competitive international teams at all levels.

“We have the opportunity to take decisive action now and create a modern and fit-for-purpose football infrastructure and transform football in this country.”

The FAI says the investment would also support the development of talent in a post-Brexit environment, as more young players remain in Ireland.

State of Irish football

The newspaper the Irish Sun included the following numbers in its reporting:

  • 220,000+ registered players
  • 45,000+ registered volunteers
  • Total current impact of participation: EUR1.8bn
  • Economic impact of social benefits: EUR 300m+
  • Direct contributions to the economy: EUR 355m+
  • Healthcare savings from football participation: EUR 1.13bn+

Expenditure on sport per person in Ireland: EUR 65 (EU average EUR 113)

Grassroots challenges:

  • 55% of clubs do not own facilities and rely on leases.
  • 50% of the leases are for less than 15 years, meaning they do not qualify for government funding.
  • Compared to UEFA industry standards, Ireland is short of around 1000 full-size grass pitches.

League of Ireland challenges:

  • Sub-standard primarily rented training facilities, often at a standard below that of local junior clubs.
  • Quality of pitches can be poor, both grass and 4G.
  • Stadia are pretty much in the same condition as they were 20 years ago. Ireland is one of just 12 countries that have not completed a full stadium project between 2009 and 2018.

International challenges:

  • Only three grounds – Aviva Stadium, Tallaght Stadium, and Turner’s Cross – can host senior international football. They are the only three among the top 40 stadia in Ireland by capacity that host football.
  • One of the three main field sports headquartered at the National Sports Campus has no modern, fit-for-purpose National Football Centre facility, with no changing facilities, no high performance support services and no classroom or conference rooms attached to the six pitches.

Total money sought (over 15 years): EUR 863m

Sources:

  • Government: EUR 517m (60%)
  • Local project partners: EUR 173m (20%)
  • Football industry: EUR 173m (20%)

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