MLA welcomes Levelling Up money for rugby but expresses 'severe disappointment' for Coleraine FC

An East Londonderry MLA has spoken of her delight AND disappointment at how sports clubs in her constituency fared in the Levelling Up funding distribution.

Independent MLA Claire Sugden welcomed Levelling Up investment in Limavady and Coleraine rugby clubs as they share a £5.1m pot spread across 20 of Northern Ireland’s rugby clubs.

Ms Sugden said the money would support grass roots rugby here, encouraging a new generation of sportsmen and women within rugby.

“The money will be particularly important in providing new female changing rooms across these 20 clubs,” Ms Sugden said. “This is hugely welcome as it recognises the rapidly growing women’s game.

Coleraine Football Club

“This in turn will encourage a new set of fans to games and a new generation of female rugby players, bringing an important boost to these clubs and the entire sport.

“The money also means an investment in the wider community is being made – schools and community groups will also hopefully benefit from having enhanced sporting facilities on their doorstep.

“I wish both the local clubs, and indeed all those across Northern Ireland that have benefitted, the best of luck with their new projects. I look forward to seeing the results of this in the near future.”

However she said there was “serious disappointment” that Coleraine FC’s ambitious plans for stadium redevelopment have not been included in Westminster’s Levelling Up Fund.

East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden

Ms Sugden said an opportunity to invest in the club, town and wider area had been missed.

“This is a big blow to Coleraine – not just the football club, but the town and all football supporters locally,” Ms Sugden said.

“This was an opportunity to give a boost to the immediate area and provide a modern, shared space for entire north-west community. The funding would have gone beyond the simple bricks and mortar of the improvements. Football clubs across the country have deep and important community links, and it is these communities that will also be let down by this news.

“Coleraine have impressive plans for their ground. In order to support grassroots football and the next generation of footballers, we have to show commitment and provide investment. The plan is ready to go, but the absence of both this kind of funding, and that which has been stalled because of the absence of the Executive, means it will be delayed yet again.

“The bid was good, it was very well received in the House of Lords and it had the support of all local MLAs. I hope this oversight in funding is remedied through other revenue streams, such as the long-awaited Sub Regional Stadia Plan for Soccer which awaits Executive sign-off before any allocations can be made.”

Ten flagship projects designed to boost economic growth across Northern Ireland are to share in a £71m Levelling Up Fund investment. Initiatives include upgrading Larne’s Carnfunnock Country Park, creating a new industrial park in Maghera and the development of a new leisure centre with £8.1 million funding to support health and wellbeing in Ballycastle.

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