Linfield v Crusaders postponed because of stand damage

The West Stand at Windsor Park has suffered structural damage
The West Stand at Windsor Park has suffered structural damage

Saturday's scheduled top-of-the-table Irish Premiership game between Linfield and Crusaders has been postponed and will not take place at Windsor Park.

Linfield say the decision was taken because of "ongoing issues in the area of the West Stand" after the discovery of structural damage earlier this week.

The club's 11 April match with Glenavon will now be at Ballymena Showgrounds.

No details of a rearranged date or venue for the Crusaders v Linfield fixture has yet been announced.

It is understood that the Irish Football Association will have to wait until after the Easter holiday period for the results of a structural engineers' report into the condition of the West Stand at the national stadium.

The report should shed some light on whether the stand can be refurbished and included in the new redeveloped national stadium, or if it will have to be flattened.

The West Stand was full of Northern Ireland supporters for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland on Sunday
The West Stand was full of Northern Ireland supporters for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland on Sunday

Either scenario would have major long-term implications regarding cost and timescale, as well as potentially affecting a number of fixtures.

The stand and surrounding area were sealed off on Tuesday amid reports of possible subsidence and cracks in its structure.

Building work behind the stand has been ongoing in recent weeks as part of the redevelopment of the area around Windsor Park, but it is not known if this is directly related.

The stand was filled to capacity with Northern Ireland fans on Sunday for the Euro 2016 qualifier victory over Finland.

The Irish Cup final is scheduled to take place at the south Belfast stadium on 2 May, but Ballymena Showgrounds has already been mooted as a possible alternative venue.

The key European Championship qualifier between Northern Ireland and Romania is also due to be played at Windsor Park on 13 June.

Whether the IFA would approach Ulster Rugby about the possibility of using the Kingspan Stadium, if required, remains unanswered at this stage.

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