Crusaders went to court seeking a review of £25m upgrade at Windsor Park

Crusaders went to court seeking a review of £25m upgrade at Windsor Park

A SIMMERING feud between two of Belfast’s big Irish league clubs has reached boiling point.

It follows a decision recently by Crusaders FC to go to the High Court and challenge a Stormont decision to give £25 million towards the upgrade’s of Linfield’s Windsor Park ground.

Only last month Crusaders backed an outline settlement put forward by a judicial review over the £25 million redevelopment of Windsor Park.

However, it hasn’t wash with Linfield fans across Northern Ireland.

The Linfield Supporters Advisory Forum have issued a statement addressing the situation surrounding the club’s forthcoming match against Crusaders.

They have said they will not be attending the match at Crusaders on Saturday, August 24 and have advised all other fans to follow in their footsteps.

The boycott had been planned for some time.

“Our fans as a whole need to show a sign of solidarity and strength. This club doesn’t deserve a penny from us.”

The Shore Road club went to the High Court claiming that Stormont Executive money could unfairly extend Linfield’s dominance in local football.

Crusaders won the right to legally challenge the plan in a judicial review.

Details of the settlement have not been disclosed, but Crusaders said it has the “potential to benefit the entirety of the football family”.

The south Belfast venue is Northern Ireland’s national football stadium, but is owned by Linfield who are rivals of Crusaders in the Irish Premiership.

Crusaders claimed the upgrade to Linfield’s stadium breached European Union competition laws and constituted government aid.

They argued the proposals would create extra revenue streams and give an unfair advantage to a club already in a financially dominant position.

A judge ruled that Crusaders had established an arguable case that the redevelopment of Windsor Park amounted to unlawful state aid for their rivals Linfield.

Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to seek a judicial review on that point, and on an alleged lack of transparency around the proposed scheme.

The outline settlement proposed by the judicial review was discussed by Crusaders members on Monday night.

“Crusaders FC can take pride in the action we have taken,” added club chairman Stephen Bell.

“Understanding the imperatives for all parties, and the urgency associated with the decision, we will nonetheless take time with our legal team to shape the right deal for the football family.

“The outline proposal before us sets in place important principles for the local game. It is therefore vital that we get it right.

“All parties are moving in the right direction and we are committed to a fair deal for all.”

The Windsor redevelopment is part of a plan that also includes the Ulster rugby ground at Ravenhill and the GAA’s Casement Park.

A total of £110m has been set aside for the three building projects through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.




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