Larne Football Club has announced that Inver Park, their home ground, will be unable to host European competition home games this season. The club received news that Inver Park fell short by just one element of the required certification to accommodate European fixtures.
The club’s General Manager Niall Curneen said: “We are bitterly disappointed to have received the news from the test lab that Inver Park has missed out by just one element of the certification required to host European fixtures this summer.
“When our 4G playing surface was installed back in 2018, the pitch had an expected lifespan of 5-7 years. Despite still being considered a top-quality surface for NIFL Premiership and all domestic fixtures, we have unfortunately fallen just short of the increasingly high criteria imposed by FIFA.
“The experts advising us through this process have described us as being ‘victims of our own success’ in that while Inver Park has become such a fantastic community hub which is used seven days per week, this has unfortunately accelerated the wear and tear which has led to the situation we find ourselves in today.
“As a club, we are and will always be for the town but will learn from this situation and take the advice provided to shape our future use of facilities. As part of that, we will now begin the process of exploring the possibility of replacing the surface within the next 12 months.
“This once again highlights the need for more sporting facilities around the town, outside of the two artificial pitches funded by the club over the past five years.
“Larne Football Club has and aims to continue bringing world football’s biggest club competitions to the town, so we must work together with the relevant stakeholders to find a solution that ensures these games can be played at Inver Park consistently in the future.
“To our supporters, please be assured that we will work with you to make it as easy as possible to attend our home legs in July. While the news is fresh to us all, discussions have already begun around extra transport for home legs.
“More information will become available as soon as we have it, and we thank you all in advance for your understanding on what is a difficult situation for the club. We are Larne.”