Northern Ireland

Windsor Park: Fans complain over flooding outside national stadium

Fans faced flooding as they tried to enter and leave Windsor Park
Image caption Fans faced flooding as they tried to enter and leave Windsor Park on Friday night

Flooding on an access route to Northern Ireland's national football stadium during Friday's World Cup qualifier match has led to complaints from fans.

Fans using Windsor Park's west stand had to pick their way past big puddles of dirty water after heavy rain flooded the access road towards Boucher Road.

Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs said the water was "ankle deep" in parts.

He said this caused a "bottleneck" as fans tried to leave the stadium.

'Apology'

Construction work is currently ongoing along the access route, as part of Belfast City Council's redevelopment of its nearby Olympia leisure centre.

Fans who cheered on the Northern Ireland team to their 4-nil victory over Azerbaijan reported long delays leaving the ground.

Image copyright Keith Anderson/Twitter

Some of them complained on social media, posting photos of the difficulties they faced.

Keith Anderson tweeted: "Getting out of the national stadium tonight was an absolute joke."

He told BBC News NI he faced delays of up to 30 minutes and witnessed children and elderly people having to step on temporary fencing that was lying on the ground.

"I would hate to think of what would have happened if we had to get out quickly in an emergency," Mr Anderson said.

Another fan tweeted that it was "horrendous" watching wheelchair users "struggle through" the water.

He claimed the situation made a "mockery" of the redeveloped stadium's official opening.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Heavy rain was a feature of Northern Ireland's 4-nil victory over Azerbaijan

Mr McAllister raised fans' complaints with the Irish Football Association (IFA), which then issued an apology on its Twitter account.

"Huge apologies to anyone who had difficulty getting in and out of the ground tonight. We are working with relevant bodies to sort asap," the IFA tweeted.

'Actively investigating'

The IFA added: "The walkway between the Boucher Road entrance and the national football stadium at Windsor Park is owned by Belfast City Council and is part of the new Olympia leisure centre being built behind the west stand.

"The Irish Football Association will be in contact with the council and the relevant contractors to ensure that suitable improvements are made to the walkway ahead of Tuesday night's game between Northern Ireland and Croatia."

In a statement to BBC News NI, a spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "We are actively investigating the matter and will work with contractors and the IFA to resolve the issue."

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