€10m soccer centre of excellence for Cork unlikely to be built following FAI finances review

€10m soccer centre of excellence for Cork unlikely to be built following FAI finances review
Artists impressions of FAI Centre of Excellence Glanmire.

A €10 million Munster soccer centre of excellence in Glanmire that was “shovel-ready” now looks unlikely to be built in the near future, after an independent review of the FAI’s finances was handed over to the Gardaí.

The long-planned Munster Centre of Excellence project plan includes seven pitches, a classroom, gymnasium, dressing rooms, physiotherapy and medical and team rooms, as well as a community area and was first announced by the FAI in December 2016.

It is planned for a 30-acre site at Brook Lodge in Glanmire and is being progressed by Cork County Council and FORAS — the trust which runs Cork City FC — in conjunction with the FAI. Work was due to begin in 2017 with a two-and-a-half-year timeline for completion, however, detailed plans and planning approval were only published in January of this year.

The site of the proposed FAI Centre of Excellence at Glanmire, Co. Cork.Pic; Larry Cummins
The site of the proposed FAI Centre of Excellence at Glanmire, Co. Cork.Pic; Larry Cummins

The FAI said that a funding application, in conjunction with Cork City FC and the Friends of the Rebel Army Trust (FORAS), for the long-planned Glanmire Centre of Excellence was lodged in April despite the controversy surrounding the association’s finances.

However, Sports Minister Shane Ross confirmed this week that an independent report on the football association’s finances was now being probed by Gardaí and funding will not be restored for capital soccer projects anytime soon - casting further doubt on the project’s future.

Glanmire-based Ger Keohane councillor said the land, which is owned by Cork County Council and leased to the FAI should be used for local sports clubs that are in dire need of space.

“We’re almost three years waiting for this now. If the FAI is not going to develop the site maybe Cork County Council should consider the lease and maybe use it as a multi-purpose area for local soccer and GAA clubs. There are plenty of clubs like Sarsfield GAA and Riverstown FC that could make great use of the space,” he added.

The planned €10 million soccer centre is dependent on approximately €5 million of Government funding in order to go to construction, which was being pursued through the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund - a fund administered by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport - until the Minister cut Government funding to the FAI.

In May, Mr Ross ruled out giving the FAI any Government funds until all issues around the FAI’s corporate governance and finances have been addressed. The Garda probe has now prolonged this process.

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