BY CRONAN SCANLON
A LACK of government funding as well as legal issues have been blamed for the lengthy delay in building a new state-of-the-art 6,600 seat stadium for Finn Harps in Stranorlar.
This week, Donegal County Council granted the club a five-year extension to its planning permission for the floodlit stadium which was due to be completed back in 2007.
So far, only the groundworks have been started on the stadium which is to be built on a green field site at Railway Road, Stranorlar between the Finn Valley Centre and the Ballybofey & Stranorlar Mart.
Local contractor, Joe McMenamin and Sons, won the contract to build the new stadium and were, in turn, re-develop the current Harps ground in Ballybofey.
The stadium which will comprise of four stands and state of the art changing facilities, was to be financed by the sale of the current ground to McMenamins.
However, the downturn in the property market means the current Harps ground is worth only fraction of the €4 million plus it was valued at during the boom.
As a result, the future of the stadium is largely dependant on scarce state funding.
In their planning application to the council, the club’s agents stated that delays in the construction of the stadium were a result of delays with legal land transfers and the payment of grand funding by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The application also stated that €450,000 has been spent at the site so far and that future funding is likely to be “phased over a longer period” due to the economic downturn.
Finn Harps were been granted a First Division Licence by the FAI Club Licensing Committee ahead of the 2012 season.
Presently, however, the club are ineligible for a Premier Division licence due to an insufficient number of seats at Finn Park.
A spokesman for the club’s ground development committee could not be contacted at the time of going to press.