GAA boss Burns not confident Casement Park will be ready

GAA boss Burns not confident Casement Park will be ready

GAA president Jarlath Burns has admitted that he doesn't think the refurbishment of Casement Park in Belfast will be completed in time for the Euros in 2028.

Grounds in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales will host games across the tournament, but Casement Park, a ground that has not been used since the 2013 Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final between Antrim and Monaghan, is in doubt.

It was reported in March that the official estimate for the refurbishment of the ground is around £308 million.

Casement Park is allegedly going to host five games, but according to GAA boss Burns, there is serious doubt that the ground will be ready in four years' time.

"It’s not looking as if we’re going to get the Euros," he told the Belfast Telegraph, while revealing the project would proceed as a provincial GAA venue.

"The whole project is being run by the Strategic Investment Board, and they have been telling us that in order to get the tenders in and to find out what it’s going to cost, it’s going to take six weeks.

"And then there’s going to have to be another four weeks for appeals to that. We’re working away; we’re clearing the site and that. But at the end of the day, it’s UEFA, and their timelines are important."

EPCR chairman Dominic McKay, left, with Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Jarlath Burns and Croke Park Stadium director Peter McKenna before the Investec Champions Cup semi-final match between Leinster and Northampton Saints at Croke Park in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Burns believes that the groundwork and stadium work will ideally have to be finished in 2027 if they have any chance of being ready.

"It has to be up and running for almost a year before you can actually say that it’s properly functional, so I’m now pessimistic that the Euros will be played in Casement Park.

"Having attended the final of the Europa League in the Aviva, I can see what UEFA brings to a stadium and to an event."

The Armagh native also claimed that west Belfast deserved to have the Euros come to town, and not having it would have a big negative effect on the local economy in the region.

"West Belfast deserves that, and we’re not getting it. It’s just a great pity because the carrot was dangled in front of us and then it was taken away.

"And actually, the big loser here is going to be the game of soccer in Northern Ireland's society and economy.

"The Department for the Economy was waiting to weigh in with all sorts of other things that were going to come from there. It’s just a pity. But we’re still very hopeful and expectant that we’re going to get the funds to make a provincial stadium where we can play our Ulster finals."