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Irish FA to replace Windsor Park pitch after criticism from Linfield boss David Healy

The Irish FA will replace the pitch at the National Stadium at Windsor Park following scathing criticism from Linfield boss David Healy.

fter last weekend’s 0-0 draw against Crusaders on a dreadful surface, the Blues manager publicly lambasted the state of the pitch and questioned the maintenance quality from the IFA.

“There have been no international games in October and November and maybe some people have taken their eye off the ball,” rapped a frustrated Healy.

“Hopefully some kind of improvement can be made.”

His barbed comments clearly hit the mark because the overhead heating lamps have been on regularly this week in an attempt to help the pitch.

And on Thursday morning, the IFA invited interested parties to enter into dialogue about the logistics of lifting and replacing the turf at Windsor in a short space of time.

“The Irish FA are looking to replace the pitch at the National Football Stadium in Belfast,” read a tender notice on a government website.

“This project has a critical timetable for completion and we are looking to engage with the market to understand more about innovative methods used for project delivery; detail about similar projects completed; and information relating to the type of carpets we may consider for the pitch replacement.

“We would also welcome discussion on ongoing maintenance recommendations so that we can develop our specification fully.”

Despite use of the term “carpets”, the IFA are understood to be focusing on a grass pitch and not an artificial surface, and sources suggest the end of the season is the best time to relay the pitch.

“Between the end of the domestic season and the start of European club games in the summer is probably the best time to lift the pitch and lay a new one,” said an IFA insider. “It would take around six weeks and would cost £300k-£400k, but it can be done.”

The pitch at Windsor Park has been relaid several times in recent years and has suffered in recent months from the stadium design, which perennially restricts sunlight under the South Stand, and the lack of overhead heat lamps in recent weeks and months, due to a combination of mild weather and rising energy costs.

However, Blues chiefs were left nonplussed four weeks ago when the IFA launched the new McDonald’s Fun Football project over the next four years at Windsor Park, with up to 200 people on the pitch for the PR opportunity.

“We have noted David Healy’s comments,” was the terse response from the IFA when asked about the Blues manager’s views this week.

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