Finn Harps have been given a major boost as they prepare to begin their 50th season in the League of Ireland.
Work on their new €6 million stadium is set to finally resume this year and officials are upbeat about a new era for the Donegal club.
Paul McLoone, the former Chief Executive of North-West Tourism who is spearheading the stadium project team, said he is confident that they will move into their new home in Stranorlar – less than a mile away across the River Finn from Finn Park in Ballybofey – in 2021.
Speaking at a pre-season launch, McLoone said they hope to complete the work within 24 months, and stressed that the “Donegal Stadium” – as it will be known – will be not just for Finn Harps, but also for the wider football family in the county.
Phase One will see the completion of the main stand, with 1,900 seats, with changing rooms and offices, the laying of the new surface and installation of floodlights.
The club has also signed a deal to lease adjoining land and will develop three more pitches.
The second phase will see a stand being built with 1,700 seats and this will be followed by the development of terracing to hold 900 spectators at either end.
The total capacity will be 5,400 – down from the original planned 6,600 capacity.
The first sod for the new stadium was turned back in 2008, but the end of the Celtic Tiger and legal and financial issues hampered its progress.
McLoone acknowledged that it has been “an extremely complex project”.
Last July, the Department of Sport announced a €304,000 grant towards the re-launch, the re-drawing of plans, and fees towards the restart of the stadium build.
The rest of the project will be funded through Government and FAI grants as well as matching funding from the club.
The club sees the new stadium as a catalyst to propel it into a new era. Aside from first team affairs, the club has set up a thriving academy, and has teams in the FAI’s national underage leagues. Last year its under-17 side – under former club captain Declan Boyle –won the league and Mark Farren Cup.
The club’s schools programme has involved 6,800 boys and girls playing football.
FINN HARPS - NEW SEASON PREVIEW. SEE NEXT WEEK'S DONEGAL POST, LETTERKENNY POST, FINN VALLEY POST AND INISH TIMES FOR MORE.
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