The sustainability and growth of Coleraine Football Club in terms of its long term development is at risk!
That is the stark reality facing the Bannsiders according to several high profile figures within the club IF they are unable to secure support and funding for a new 3G pitch at the club’s Showgrounds home.
The powers that be within the club have a strong development plan in place as to where they see the club going, but a lot hinges on funding from government sources. A move to a proposed multi-million pound stadium development at Rugby Avenue has also been long touted.
But as with the funding their is no time sclae on this project and time is something which the Bannsiders do not have according to Club Chairman Colin McKendry.
“Regardless of where Coleraine FC’s long term future may lie, the immediate need to secure the foundations that have been laid over the last three years is essential,” Colin told Times Sport.
“Whilst I personally have expressed mine and the club’s support for Coleraine Borough Council’s proposed venture at Rugby Ave, I have also put on record that I and the club are totally in support of the immediate need for appropriate playing and training facilities at the Showgrounds.
“When you consider the amount of people who participate in the sport of football alone in the Coleraine area, whether competitively or as a leisure activity, it is clear that we are in need of many more multi use facilities than the Rugby Avenue project will cater for.
“It is for that reason that Coleraine Football Club are pursuing avenues to secure support and possible funding for artificial surfaces at Coleraine Showgrounds.”
First team boss Oran Kearney has also thrown his full support behind the urgency to secure a new playing surface. He feels that it would not only benefit his squad, but the the thriving youth set up and the wider community as a whole.
“There are obvious advantages that the senior squads would gain from better playing and training facilities,” said Kearney.
“But we at Coleraine FC must find a way to secure the appropriate facilities to nurture the extensive grassroots and community programmes that we are currently evolving. You only have to look at the Cliftonville and Crusaders models to imagine what could be achieved in Coleraine.
“We are already widely recognised as being one of the most active community clubs in the country with numerous initiatives undertaken. Our youth programmes alone attract tens of hundreds of kids of all abilities who are delighted to be associated with Coleraine Football Club.
“We have the ability to attract the best in local playing and coaching talent. In many ways we have all the basic structures in place to develop a successful team parallel to taking a leading role in the community aspects of the borough.
“However, I have to reservedly say that the lack of appropriate facilities could see this all unravel. It would be devastating to all those involved if Coleraine were to allow their talent, best practices and initiatives to be drained to other areas who have suitable facilities in place.”
The club’s Community Liaison Officer and Academy Chairman Andy Alcorn is urging Coleraine Borough Council will throw their weight behind the club’s plans and he revealed that he is set to give a presentation to local councillors at the beginning of next month to put forward the Bannsiders overwhelming case.
“We are aware that many of the residents of the Coleraine Borough and beyond have been very complimentary and supportive of the initiatives that we have put in place through our youth and community programmes,” said Andy.
“The numbers that attend and participate weekly have been quite staggering. We also are very aware that this is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak, we know, having taken our first tentative steps into community partnership working that there are many more community, health, educational and social responsibilities that we as a football club can facilitate and attract people too.
“We have been granted an opportunity on May 7th to present to the full Borough Council and we will be asking them as our elected representatives to lobby all our current funding applications.
“We will also urge them not to put all the hopes of the town in one basket in the form of the Rugby Avenue project. After all there is no guarantee that all of the required private or public funding will be secured, leaving risk, that Coleraine will still have no multi use facilities.
“If however we could secure the financial support, which is a fraction of the cost of the council project, we have a location that’s lease will far out live the lifetime of the new facility, is spade ready and could be completed in eight weeks.
“This guaranteeing our future programmes and a much needed facility for the people of the Borough. It is to that aim that we would urge anyone who feels passionate about this to lobby on our behalf.”