12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
The F.A.I. and the I.R.F.U. feel it necessary at this time to clarify their position regarding the proposed National Stadium at Abbotstown and the stadium requirements of both organisations.
It is well recognised that Lansdowne Road, whilst it has served rugby and soccer well over the years and still provides an atmosphere second to none, is inadequate in terms of both capacity and facilities expected in a stadium for use in the 21st century.
Given the demand for tickets for rugby and soccer international fixtures it is clear that a modern stadium with a capacity of 60,000-65,000 is required. This demand is not only from within Ireland but also, particularly in the case of international rugby fixtures, from outside Ireland from the large number of visiting supporters.
Both the F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. are fully supportive of the need to build a national stadium which will have a capacity of 60,000 to 65,000 and which will be built to a full modern specification. Both organisations have independently explored the possibility of building a stadium privately and are quite clear that it is not feasible financially and could jeopardise the future well being of the sports. Both organisations support the financing model for major stadia evident throughout most of the world i.e. state or public investment in such infrastructure.
The I.R.F.U. have investigated the possibility of a modern stadium facility at Lansdowne Road with a capacity of 60,000 seats and advice suggests that a Greenfield situation is a more practicable option.
The I.R.F.U. and F.A.I. fully respect the G.A.A. in relation to the tremendous work that has been put into Croke Park, which will be a magnificent facility when completed. The F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. also fully respect the G.A.A.'s position regarding usage of Croke Park. However, given the public comment on the issue of soccer or rugby being played in Croke Park, the F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. feel that they must clarify their position on this.
Whilst there is no doubt that Croke Park would be a suitable venue for once-off fixtures or tournaments i.e. Euro 2008 Soccer Championships, Rugby World Cup Final; given the schedule of international fixture commitments of both the F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. it is clear that major clashes with the G.A.A. calendar of fixtures would be likely in June/July and September. In addition both organisations are conscious of the negative impact evident in stadia around the world where soccer and rugby are played on a pitch far removed from spectators - normally as a result of surrounding athletics track. G.A.A. pitch dimensions are approximately150m x 90m; those of soccer and rugby are 100m x 70m. This would leave spectators at rugby and soccer matches a minimum of 15m from the pitch side and 25m from the goal line.
This would not be conducive to good viewing or atmosphere, something that is vital for the success of international events. The issue of the long-term availability of Croke Park to meet F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. international fixture commitments and the size of the pitch and stadium itself make any sharing arrangement impractical other than for once-off events, subject of course to agreement with the G.A.A.
In these circumstances the F.A.I. and I.R.F.U. are committed to the proposal to build a National Stadium. It will provide modern stadium facilities with the capacity to satisfy the needs and expectations of the soccer and rugby public and visiting overseas supporters. The revenue derived from international fixtures is the financial engine behind game development and increased participation in both our sports. The provision of the stadium will provide the revenue streams that fund the grass roots development of both soccer and rugby all around the country.