world : Burns 'pessimistic' over Casement hosting Euro 2028

world : Burns 'pessimistic' over Casement hosting Euro 2028
world : Burns 'pessimistic' over Casement hosting Euro 2028

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:50 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Burns said he expected the redevelopment of Casement Park to go ahead but not to the required specification to meet Uefa standards for staging Euro 2028 fixtures.

“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 on Tuesday.

"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.”

Five games have been earmarked for Casement Park but Burns anticipates that meeting Uefa timelines is going to be difficult.

“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 - 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."

In response to Burns' comments, a Department for Communities spokesperson said: “NI Executive funding was allocated for the redevelopment of Casement Park in 2011 and remains in place.

"Funding for a Euros enabled Casement Park has yet to be clarified by all partners.”

Burns added that the UK general election on 4 July could lead to further delays.

“There’s an election in the north. And whenever an election is called, you enter into what we call purdah, where governments are not allowed to make big donations or big announcements.

“It’s very handy for the Conservative government that they get out of having to do it. The Gaelic Athletic Association will always be in a very precarious position when we find ourselves depending on the goodwill of the British government. It’s never worked out for us before. I’m very, very disappointed with the pace of how it’s gone.”

However, the Irish Football Association (IFA) says it continues to work towards hosting Euro 2028 fixtures at Casement Park.

"We are in constant contact with UEFA and other key stakeholders to ensure this once in a lifetime opportunity for Northern Ireland to co-host one of the biggest sports events in the world is realised," said an IFA spokesperson.

“It remains a transformative opportunity to bring our communities together through the power of sport.”

BBC Sport NI has contacted Uefa for comment.

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