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85k stand plan for Iveagh Park

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

85k stand plan for Iveagh Park thumbnailLaunching the fundraising campaign for the new spectator stands at Iveagh Park are Howard Murray, Margaret Ritchie MP, Jim Wells MLA, Iain McDowell, Harold McKee MLA and Dessie Davenport

AN AMBITIOUS plan for a new 205-seater stand at Iveagh Park has been unveiled by Rathfriland Football Club.

The 85,000 project has been granted full planning permission and officials are aiming for it to be opened in time for the club's 65th anniversary next season.

Chairman Howard Murray said it was "another major step" in the club's long history, with the announcement coming in the same week that it reached this year's Border Cup final.

While Rathfriland Football Club is fit to stump up a significant portion of the cash needed for the stand, it is appealing to supporters and friends to join in the funding effort.

A Support Our Stand draw has been launched, allowing backers to write themselves into the club's history book by donating 100 for a seat, while at the same time entering a prize draw for 500.

The fundraiser is expected to raise 21,000, and with an anonymous backer pledging 25,000 the club hopes to claim grant funding to cover the remaining cost.

Iveagh Park is already one of the best grounds at Northern Ireland's amateur level and the addition of the stand will enable it to host more high-profile matches.

It will also allow the club to move up to the third tier of Northern Irish football, should it choose to do so in the future.

“It would be nice if we had the stand erected and then go into the new season as league champions," Mr Murray said.

“That is a tall order, but we are aiming high."

The stand is based on stands at similar structures at Crusaders' Seaview ground and Dollingstown's Planters Park.

Initially, the project will involve removing fencing and floodlighting to clear the site, and is earmarked for a start next summer.

“Full planning has been approved and building control is in the final stages of being completed, so it looks as though it'll be June when we commence the work," Mr Murray explained.

“That's how close it is to being realised."

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie of the SDLP viewed the plans the area's DUP and UUP MLAs Jim Wells and Harold McKee along with the area's DUP and UUP MLAs Jim Wells and Harold McKee, and they have given their backing to Rathfriland for the build.

But Mr Murray said support of friends and sponsors would be all-important to making the stand become a reality.

“We can certainly handle our share of the money needed for the stand if we can draw down a reasonable size of grant funding," he added.

“Our Support Our Stand draw is crucial, too.

“The club has already quite a number of those draw tickets for seats sold and we encourage more people to come forward to get involved in this historic project."

Not only will the stand add to the character Iveagh Park and be of benefit to fans of the club's senior teams, but it will also be for the full use of the parents and supporters of the club's 10 youth teams.

“It's a great reflection on the club that we can get the support from our community to do these things," Mr Murray said.

“That's the beautiful thing about a community club like Rathfriland.

“We are here to serve the community, provide football for all, and our community rewards us by helping us to do what we're doing.

“This is what this next step is all about.

“Iveagh Park is not a park pitch, it's not a council pitch, - it's privately owned and we take a lot of pride in it."

If you would like to donate towards the club's Support Our Stand fundraiser, contact the club on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rathfrilandfc or speak to a committee member.

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