Lifford AC and Strabane Track Club set to make historical amalgamation (full story by Strabane Weekly):
After months of speculation, Lifford Athletic Club has confirmed that it is currently in talks with Strabane Track Club about a possible amalgamation of the two clubs.
In a statement this week, the Lifford Club confirmed that behind the scenes negotiations are taking place to form a new athletic club, which would create a bit of history as being the first such cross border athletic club on the island.
The Lifford club highlighted ongoing co-operation both with Derry and Strabane District Council and Strabane Track Club to promote cross border and cross community co-operation in the area, one of the highlights being the hugely successful Strabane Lifford Half Marathon held earlier this year.
An application will be made in the coming weeks both to the Donegal Athletics Board and to the Ulster Athletics Council for the recognition of a new club which, if successful, could see a first cross border amalgamation of athletic clubs before Christmas.
The statement read as follows: “Lifford Athletic Club can confirm that it is in negotiations with Strabane Track Club about the possible amalgamation of the two clubs. Over the past number of months, the club executive has been exploring opportunities with Strabane Track Club about joining together as one cross border club.
“Not only does this have the opportunity to create a bit of sporting history in athletics on this part of the island, but it also has the potential to create one of the biggest and strongest clubs in the North West.
“Lifford Athletic Club has had a long and distinguished record of promoting and developing athletics in the area since its formation in 1968. For nearly 50 years, the club has had a record second to none of developing top class athletes, many of whom have gone on to compete on the international stage.
“In recent years, it has evolved into a club which is not only achieving outstanding results at juvenile and senior level, but it has one of the biggest recreational running groups in the country through the success of its Fit4Life programme.
“While Lifford AC is now the second biggest club in Donegal, a possible amalgamation with Strabane Track Club has the potential to create the biggest athletic club on this part of the island.
“Over the past three years, the club has been working on a cross border basis to promote and develop athletics both in schools and in the community.
“The club has also worked in close co-operation with Derry and Strabane District Council to develop two hugely successful cross border road race events, the Riverine 10K and the Strabane Lifford Half Marathon.
“Earlier this year, the Half Marathon in only its second year attracted record numbers to the area, an event which has the potential to grow into one of the premier sporting events in the North West. Both races evolved from an initiative to promote cross border and cross community partnerships, with significant success already achieved through the hosting of both events.
“Strabane Track Club also has a long and distinguished record in athletics development, it being one of the oldest athletic clubs in Ulster stretching back to the 1940’s and club of choice for Donegal athletes prior to new club formations in the county during the 1960’s.
“In recent years, the Strabane club has also produced a constant stream of top class athletes and in particular, an impeccable tradition in the throws events. Both clubs have traditionally recognised and respected each other’s boundaries for attracting members.
“However, over the past number of years, the Lifford Club has seen it attracting many members from Strabane and further afield, including Newtownstewart, Ballymagorry, Clady, Sion Mills, Donemana, Castlederg and Plumbridge. The makeup of the Lifford club now sees approximately 50% of its members from West Tyrone, with the balance of our membership spreading right across East Donegal.
“The timing has never been better to explore opportunities for the development of one cross border club. We recognise the many opportunities that the development of one club would bring for membership, facilities sharing, and achieving economies of scale through the shared use of resources.
“A single club would also pull together the coaching expertise of the two existing clubs, creating a Centre of Excellence in the area for developing athletes and creating appropriate training structures for all levels of athletic ability. We are also cognisant of the really positive impact that an amalgamated club could make on promoting cross border and cross community co-operation across East Donegal and West Tyrone.
“Over the coming weeks, an application will be made to both the Donegal and Ulster Athletic Councils for the recognition of an amalgamated cross border club. If approved, this will be one further hurdle cleared towards a possible amalgamation. Negotiations will continue with Strabane Track Club around other issues of mutual concern, which, if overcome, could lead to an official launch of the new club before Christmas.
“We are grateful to the members of our own club and to the Executive of Strabane Track Club for the positive engagement already undertaken, which we hope will lead to a successful outcome over the coming weeks and months.”