Showgrounds gets green light to host Ballymena United's Europa League home tie

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey
David Jeffrey's side had to play their home Europa League game at Seaview two years ago

Uefa has cleared Ballymena Showgrounds to host Ballymena United's Europa League home leg later this summer.

It will be the first time that a European tie has been played at the Ballymena venue in 15 years.

Two years ago, Ballymena played their home game at Seaview in the Europa League tie against Norwegian club Odd.

"Hopefully this is the first of many similar games to be played in Ballymena," said the club's chairman John Taggart.

The announcement follow significant investment on the Ballymena Showgrounds surface, which was primarily carried out to ensure the pitch secured approval from European football's governing body.

The Showgrounds are owned by Mid & East Antrim Council and the Ballymena chairman has paid tribute to the council's assistance in ensuring that the European game will go ahead at the venue.

"l would like to express the club's sincere thanks to the council who, once the European qualification was confirmed, committed to ensuring that the home leg of the tie would be played in Ballymena," added the Ballymena chairman.

Council's chief executive Anne Donaghy described the news as a "great result for Ballymena United".

"The main aim of the major works at Ballymena Showgrounds was to ensure the pitch met European standards and we have achieved that with the issuing of a Uefa licence," added the council chief executive.

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council has also revealed that it is hoping the Showgrounds will host matches during Northern Ireland's staging of the 2020 Uefa Under-19 Men's Finals.

The tournament will take place in July 2020.

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