Inver Park unable to stage European matches over 2023/24 campaign

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Larne Football Club has confirmed that Inver Park will be unable to host home games in European competition this season with matches having to be played at an alternative venue.

The news comes as Tiernan Lynch’s side awaits the draw for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League after claiming the 2022/23 Irish League title- the first in the club’s 134-year history.

A club spokesperson stated the development was due to the east Antrim stadium’s synthetic surface “failing one element of the required FIFA Pro Standard pitch test” adding “as a stadium, Inver remains a Uefa Category 2 Stadium, as per the 2023/24 Uefa Club Licence issued by the Irish Football Association and is fit for all domestic fixtures.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Uefa’s competition rules state that we have until June 2 to nominate an alternative venue to play our European home games and we will announce where this will be in due course.”

Inver Park.Inver Park.
Inver Park.

Speaking to the club’s website, General Manager Niall Curneen said: “We’re bitterly disappointed to have received the news from the test lab that Inver has missed out by just one element of the certification required to host European fixtures this summer.

“When our 4G playing surface was installed back in 2018, the pitch had an expected lifespan of five-seven years. Despite still being considered a top-quality surface for NIFL Premiership and all domestic fixtures, we’ve unfortunately fallen just short of the increasingly high criteria imposed by FIFA.

“The experts advising us through this process have described us as being ‘victims of our own success’ in that while Inver has become such a fantastic community hub which is used seven days per week, this has unfortunately accelerated the wear and tear which has led to the situation we find ourselves in.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We are and will always be for the town but will learn from this situation and take the advice provided to shape our future use of facilities. As part of that, we’ll now begin the process of exploring the possibility of replacing the surface within the next 12 months.

“This again highlights the need for more sporting facilities around the town, outside of the two artificial pitches funded by the club over the past five years.

“Larne FC has and aims to continue bringing world football’s biggest club competitions to the town, so we must work together with the relevant stakeholders to find a solution that ensures these games can be played at Inver consistently in the future.

“To our supporters, please be assured we will work with you to make it as easy as possible to attend our home legs in July. While the news is fresh to us all, discussions have begun around extra transport for home legs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“More information will become available as soon as we have it, and we thank you all in advance for your understanding on what is a difficult situation for the club. We are Larne.”

Taking to social media, club owner Kenny Bruce MBE branded the move as “very frustrating” adding “I’m sorry to our fans. This situation sits with me and I’ll make sure we pass all pitch tests in the future.

"I’d never have thought our under five year old pitch wouldn’t pass the test. We will continue our drive to have Champions League games at Inver.”