Ulster Unionist Culture Arts & Leisure spokesperson Michael McGimpsey has welcomed assurances that the IFA is actively exploring how to incorporate a Football Museum into the redevelopment of Windsor Park.
The South Belfast MLA said;
“At today’s meeting of the Assembly’s Culture, Arts & Leisure committee the IFA gave a presentation with regard to their plans to upgrade Windsor Park.
I was very pleased to learn from Chief Executive Patrick Wilson that the IFA is actively exploring the possibility of incorporating a Museum into the new East Stand at the Railway End of the ground.
This has long been a pet project of mine and I welcome the strong indication from the IFA that local people and visitors alike will be able to visit the Stadium on non-match days and learn the history of the Association and football in Northern Ireland. The Scottish FA has an excellent facility at Hampden Park in Glasgow and a similar one at a redeveloped Windsor Park would be ideal.
Local football has a wonderful story to tell. The IFA is the fourth oldest Association in the world and the Irish League is the third oldest. The penalty kick was invented in Northern Ireland. We have qualified for three World Cup Finals tournaments – Sweden 1958, Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986. We have given the game iconic figures such as George Best and Pat Jennings and in Norman Whiteside we produced the youngest player ever to grace a World Cup Finals tournament. Until 2006 we were the smallest Nation in terms of population ever to qualify for a World Cup.
A Museum would be a welcome addition to the new Stadium that will be developed at Windsor Park and I am very confident that it would be an asset to Northern Ireland’s tourist industry.”