Testimonial Currently Planned For Turners Cross

Unhappiness on Leeside over the unavailability of Pairc Ui Chaoimh for the Liam Miller testimonial looks set to be probed by the Government.

It's reported an official explanation from the Cork GAA County Board, amid concerns that the decision not to allow the match take place at the redeveloped GAA HQ in Cork may have broken the conditions of a grant paid towards the stadium’s redevelopment.

Whatever the rules of the Association there is considerable unease in the wider community that the charity match isn't going ahead there given the likely additional funds that would be generated by the bigger stadium capacity.

Cordial relations have existed between the GAA and other codes since Croke Park was made available during the redevelopment of Landsdowne Road, but ambiguity around the use of other grounds and when they can be made available has prompted a heated debate triggered by the Liam Miller tribute game.

In the Cork case, the €80m redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh received €30m in public funding, and the EU approved the grant on condition that the stadium “will be open to various users on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis”.

However the GAA is cornered by the fact that under current rules of Congress other grounds are not covered by the motion that allowed the opening of Croke Park.

As you may be aware, former Irish international Liam Miller died earlier this year at the age of 36.

The Cork native played for Manchester United, Celtic, and Cork City and is survived by his wife and three children. Tickets for the September 23 match at the 7,000-capacity Turners Cross, which is set to feature a host of former Manchester United, Celtic, and Ireland stars, went on sale this morning.

In May 2014 the Government announced that it would provide a €30m grant towards the redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh - only for the European Commission to subsequently declare that it was to investigate whether the funding violated State Aid rules.

In July 2016, the Commission issued an 11-page decision in which it gave the opinion that it did not consider that the €30m grant amounted to illegal State aid.

However in its decision, the Commission noted that the “stadium could be rented out to other field sports”, and under the terms and conditions for the use of the stadium, it said that Pairc Ui Chaoimh “will be open to various users on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis”.

It further said that the Cork County Board “will rent out the Pairc Ui Chaoimh's facilities to third parties to organise sporting and other commercial events.”

The same section of the decision states that the Irish government “will monitor the use of the facility over a period of at least 15 years”.

The grant was approved by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

A Department spokesperson said they were not contacted by the match organisers, but would be in touch with the Cork County Board over the issue.

Watch this space!