Larne FC chief fears for future

An impression of what the new stands would look like at Inver Park. INLT 04-682-CON
An impression of what the new stands would look like at Inver Park. INLT 04-682-CON

The future of Larne Football Club could be in jeopardy unless funding for a planned £4m upgrade of Inver Park is made available, it has been claimed.

The major redevelopment would see a 3g pitch laid at the ground, as well as the creation of a new all-weather training facility covered by a dome, and a new 1,100 seater stand.

The Championship One club has been pinning its hopes on securing funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, which has set aside £36m for football stadium development.

The cash boost would represent a vital lifeline for the financially struggling club, transforming Inver Park into a modern and sustainable facility.

But Larne FC’s chief executive Mervyn McKay said the project has stalled due to a “lack of information” from the Department.

He told the Times: “Inver Park needs to be brought up to standard and we have struggled to keep the club alive and maintain our high profile.

“The situation we find ourselves in is just not sustainable. Without this funding from DCAL, the club will continue to degrade and could find itself playing in the Amateur League.

“We have secured planning approval for the sports dome element of the project and will submit the application for the new stand in the near future.

“But we are essentially stuck in limbo until we get more information from the Department.”

In a bid to salvage the project, Mr McKay has called on local elected representatives to support the club in its efforts to secure the funds.

Speaking to the Times, East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons said he has urged the Department to provide clarification on the funding situation.

The DUP man also revealed that, according to his knowledge, it could be 2017 before funds are made available.

“If this is correct it will be another frustrating setback, he added.

“I commend those at Inver Park for the work that they carry out, despite the less than ideal conditions.

“This funding is necessary for the long-term future of Inver Park and I hope that this can be progressed as soon as possible and the works commenced.

“I have asked for information from DCAL as to what the timetable and process for the awarding of funds is in relation to stadium development. I hope that this information will be forthcoming soon.”

A DCAL spokesperson said plans to hold a formal public consultation with “key stakeholders” are underway, adding: “The process for allocation of funding will be a fair, open and transparent process.”