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No date for Windsor West Stand

The West Stand at Windsor Park is demolished soon after cracks appeared in its structure in March 
Gareth McCullough

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson says it’s too early to say when a new West Stand will be built at Windsor Park as he unveiled the new East and South Stands on Wednesday.

The West Stand, more commonly known as the ‘Kop’, was demolished soon after cracks were spotted in its structure following the Euro2016 qualifier win over Finland in March.

Contractors O’Hare and McGovern accelerated the ongoing work on the rest of the stadium in order to house those West Stand ticket holders for Saturday’s pivotal clash with Romania in Belfast. All 10,000 available tickets have been sold with nearly 4,000 seats put into the new East Stand and the South stand over the past few weeks.

Nelson says that the South Stand, which will house the away fans this weekend, is on schedule to be completed by November but he was unable to put a timeframe on a new West Stand.

“At this point, we’re still on target to finish what we were expecting to finish, by November, which is the East Stand the entire South Stand complex, including the changing rooms, the hospitality and the press facilities.

“The extra work that is going to be done to put a new West Stand together, that will take a while longer and it’s too early for us to have a timeframe on it,” Nelson admitted.

“The planning work will start fairly quickly on it, but whether the physical construction will start before the rest is finished, I’m not sure. That’s one for the professionals and they’ll get round to it soon enough. They’ve been so focussed on the East Stand and keeping the South Stand on track for the last nine weeks, that’s where all the focus has been.”

Windsor Park is set to have an increased capacity of 18,000 when all works are completed and he was full of praise for the works that has gone into making the stadium ready for what is arguably northern Ireland’s biggest home match in almost 30 years

“It’s been quite a monumental job over the last nine weeks,” he said.

“It’s a good spirit of Northern Ireland thing. When we learnt about this, the immediate thought was ‘what do we do and how do we do it’. We immediately set the target that we were going to have this game here and we then worked out a project plan with all of the guys involved; the architects, the project manager and the construction people from O’Hare and McGovern. They gave us a plan, we scrubbed it a little bit, we were convinced it was going to work and we went for it. We said we were going to do it and the project team has done it.”

Nelson said there were still ‘debates’ over who will foot the bill for the reconstruction of the West Stand and eventually all will become clear with regards to the cause of the damage following that win over Finland.

“The construction guys and the structural engineers were comfortable with going ahead with the demolition. That has made it safe but there are still debates to be continued there.

“In the first instance, we’ve got an insurance policy and our insurers have been very good on this. I suspect they will carry on looking down the line to see where the ultimate bill ends up,” Nelson revealed.

“In the end, it will become clear what happened to the West Stand but, at this point, the insurers are still debating it and the time will come when everybody understands what happened.”

Northern Ireland currently sit a point behind Saturday night’s opponents Romania who top Euro2016 Qualifying Group F with five games played.

 

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