Finn Harps New Stadium – Fundraising Strategy 2024

Finn Harps FC wish to confirm the initiation of the public phase of fundraising to deliver our new stadium project.  We are happy to announce that, working with the FAI, Donegal County Council and our stadium committee, the elements to progress this project to a conclusion can now be put in place to recommence construction.

The following information is key to understanding both the significant progress made to date, and the funding challenges that remain.

Recent Progress Made 

  • We are proposing a hybrid design involving modular style construction, while utilising the existing concrete structure previously constructed to the west side. The modular elements are very similar to Salford City’s impressive new stadium which is noted for a positive match day experience and excellent atmosphere.
  • The implementation of a modular build saves millions on the construction cost and helps to make the project viable at a time of rising construction inflation. At completion we will have one main concrete stand (completing the structure already commenced) with modular stands to the all three remaining sides, fully enclosed and fitted out to be fully compliant with FAI licencing requirements for playing in the League of Ireland, as well as being capable of being adapted further to meet UEFA CAT 3 standard (i.e. able to host European football).
  • Revisions to our planning for the modular build will be submitted to Donegal County Council in mid-2024.
  • In December 2023 we secured an increase from €4m to €4.7m in the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) grant allocation for the project.
  • We received Grants from both Donegal County Council and the FAI totalling €1m (500k from each body).  However the FAI contribution is spread over 10 years and the DCC allocation over 3 years.  Therefore we have secured a loan backed by those grants, which will be repaid in full as grants are paid to us, with the club covering the interest payments on that loan.
  • We have held discussions with the Finn Park Trust (Owners of the current Finn Park grounds) coming to an agreement (in the spirit of the previous agreement from 2007) whereby the Trust will transfer their ownership to the new stadium upon completion. The Trust would then be willing to transfer the current Finn Park to the club.  This Finn Park transfer would only occur when the new ground is operational.  This protocol was put in place to ensure that League of Ireland football would remain in the Twin Towns and that the ground would never be at commercial risk.
  • We have been successful in achieving Sports Body Tax Exemption status for the project meaning that eligible donations in excess of €250 can benefit from tax relief under the Charitable Donation Scheme.  This means that as an approved body, tax relief under the scheme can be assigned to use by donors, which can increase the value of qualifying donations by approximately 45%. As a guideline a €250 donation would be worth €362 to the club if the tax relief was assigned to us by the donor.

Key Challenges

  • Under the terms of grant aid secured, we will not be permitted to start construction, or draw down any grant funding unless we can show both:
    • Agreed contracts for the construction project
    • That we have the funding in place and in our accounts.
  • The strict rules on how the grant aid and project financing processes works, particularly in relation to matched funding, presented significant cashflow challenges for the club. We can only draw down funding after we have paid in full for work completed, and the work has then been certified.  This means a delay of 1-2 months from when we pay for work to when we receive the grant monies back.  We then receive only 70% of the amount paid for that stage of work.
  • We have aligned with our partners on costs, giving a total project cost of €7.3m
  • Confirmed funding of €4.7m from the LSSIF, €126k remaining on a Sports Capital Grant for Design Fees, together with the Donegal Co Council and FAI Grants provide committed external funding to the value of just over €5.8m.
  • The club’s challenge is therefore to raise €1.5m incrementally, at stages required by the project programme, and have the full funding for those payments in our account (or have written guarantees for the source of those funds) before we can commence any work.

Next Steps

We now need your help as we initiate the €1.5m fundraising campaign to complete the construction of this new €7.3m football stadium. Your support is crucial and would represent an investment in the future of Finn Harps, and in senior football in the region.

We recognise that it would be impossible within any short-term timeframe to raise this full amount from our fanbase alone, while continuing to support the significant costs of running the club’s ongoing football operations. It would simply be a bridge too far.

Therefore, the Board of Directors propose to secure bridging finance to ensure the project is fully funded before we start. This bridging finance will be asset backed by the new stadium initially, and when the new stadium is complete, by the existing grounds at Finn Park.  At that point Finn Park can be sold to repay the loan if required.  This is a funding model for the required €1.5m that we feel is achievable, with a combination the sale of the current Finn Park, and raising both stadium and operational funds from our members, fans and potential donors.

Proposed Funding Model

The funding model is underpinned by the arrangement of bridging finance based on the eventual sale of Finn Park after new stadium completion and transfer of new stadium ownership to the Finn Park Trust.  To accomplish this will require purchase of the new stadium land from Donegal County Council.  Discussions with lenders have taken place and we are confident that this finance will soon be in place.

It will also be necessary to put in place additional, stable income streams alongside this finance to enable the project to proceed and to service and minimise the cost of the finance arrangement, as well as to make an immediate start on the fundraising project to ultimately repay the bridging finance loans as soon as possible.

The key proposals in this respect are as follows:

  1. We propose to initiate a new long term ownership model based on a Shareholder annual subscription to create sustainable cash inflow and support both the stadium and ongoing club operations.  Details of this are provided in the next section.
  2. For those who wish to support the project without becoming a Club Member, an auxiliary Stadium Fund Membership will be available at a reduced rate.  This membership will not include voting rights but will provide committed income to the project based on a quarterly recurring payment, or a once off subscription.
  3. We have created a project hub on the iDonate fundraising platform to facilitate various fundraising projects as well as general once off or recurring donations of any size from our fanbase, the wider region, nationally and internationally.  The platform allows for supporters to create and run individual fundraising events, raising sponsorship etc which can be channeled towards the project.  Crucially, as noted above the Sports Body Tax Exemption status for the project means that eligible donations qualify for tax relief if assigned to us by the donor. As a guideline a €250 donation would be worth €362 to the club if the tax relief was assigned to us by the donor.
    Donation link: your own fundraiser here:
  4. Within the iDonate platform we will immediately host a Stadium Patrons Fund which will be limited to 100 Patrons.  This will be a one off, higher value donation for those who can afford it.  The proposed cost is €1,500, which if tax relief can be allocated to the club would yield over €2,100 per donation.  Join at
  5. The existing 500 Club fundraiser can also be used as a vehicle for donations with the aim to increase membership and allocate a proportion of the net income to support the project.  The details of this and the allocation percentage will be agreed with 500 Club members.
  6. As the project progresses we will also (via the iDonate platform) introduce further fundraising initiatives, similar to those which have been highly successful on other infrastructure projects, e.g. sponsoring seats/brick/pathways.  These are expected to be more likely to succeed once the construction has progressed and the public can see progress on site.  Seeking to gain tax relief on these donations will again be the aim.

All of the above initiatives will be backed by major online and email marketing campaigns, while the club will organise events in Dublin, London and the US in the coming months.   However, engagement with, and promotion of these events by our shareholders and fanbase will remain key to their success.  We need YOU to help us deliver this.

An independent oversight committee will manage all funds raised which will be ring fenced for the stadium development and the club are confident that the above proposals, underwritten by the bridging finance will allow the delivery of the project to completion.

Membership Proposal

The proposed new ownership model which will be presented to Shareholders at the upcoming Special General Meetings will involve, within the existing Cooperative Society Rules, closing of the existing shareholder category and introducing a new share class.

The current share category of a single payment for a share in perpetuity will be replaced by a new share class which is in the form of an annual membership.    For these new members the first 12 months of payments are considered their share purchase, and following this they are shareholders.  Holders of the original share class will remain part owners however they will no longer have voting rights or attend general meetings unless they join the annual membership.

It is proposed to keep membership as accessible as possible, with membership fees of moderate cost, with discounts for seniors/students as well as a low cost monthly payment option.

Finally, where supporters participate in both Club Membership and the 500 Club, a combined, discounted rate will be available.  The proposed pricing structure is as follows:

The items outlined in this document will be discussed with our Shareholders at the Special General Meeting on 28th April at 7.00pm and resolutions will be put to the meeting for adoption in relation to proceeding as outlined with the new stadium project, the fundraising plan and the proposed Membership Scheme.

A survey is being conducted for Harps fans around all these changes, access it HERE

Commercial Opportunities 

The club are also actively pursuing commercial opportunities for the new Stadium including naming rights for the overall development and for each individual stand.  For enquiries in this regard please contact [email protected]



Why the urgency to proceed now?

Finn Park has multiple infrastructure issues, most recently with inadequate floodlighting.  However lack of cover, poor accessibility, poor toilet facilities, lack of adequate seating mean that continuing to host League of Ireland games has increasingly been a struggle, while club licensing will see the club excluded from senior football in the coming years unless we move to a stadium that is fit for purpose.  Construction costs are rising all the time while the funding committed to us is not, so the sooner we get construction started the better.  Our support has been incredible and deserves a modern, accessible, atmospheric stadium.

Why not develop Finn Park?

Several attempts were made to develop Finn Park, however it is not capable of meeting the minimum requirements for League of Ireland football at present or after redevelopment. Numerous restrictive factors including access directly onto two roads,  one side being in a special area of conservation and river bank, another side being a flood wall for the town, no on site parking for buses, visitors or broadcasting media amongst many others led the club’s board in 2005 to choose a greenfield site in Stranorlar.  Commercially, Finn Park is zoned for high density housing whereas the site in Stranorlar is designated for sport meaning that the valuation of Finn Park is significantly higher and this value differential means we indirectly through the Trust have something to contribute to the project, if we remained in Finn Park we would not be able to provide anything by means of match funding apart from what can be fundraised.

Why not rely solely on fundraising to raise all of the matched funds?

All of the grants and bank funding provided require ALL of the funding for 100% of construction payments to be in place before the club can recoup any monies.  In the case of the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Grants, they will only make payments after the money has been spent and certified, after which reimbursement of costs will be paid at least 30 days later.

Cashflow is therefore a major issue in delivering a project of this nature. The intention is therefore to have all of the funds in place to be able to start the stadium, borrowing €1.7m to do so. (This includes an estimated €200k required to buy land in Stranorlar). This was a major stumbling block and one which influenced a lot of decisions about fundraising, Finn Park etc.

Why not sell Finn Park first to Fund the Stadium Build?

Finn Park is owned by a Trust, not the Football Club. The club is unable to mortgage or sell the site as it is against the rules of the Trust. The Trustees however are keen to keep senior football in the Twin Towns and in 2007 helped provide a mechanism to transfer their ownership to the new stadium when complete, which would then allow Finn Park to be sold to repay loans. The value of Finn Park is significantly higher than the value of the sports designated land in Stranorlar therefore it makes economic sense to pursue this option. Recently the Trustees have confirmed that they are still supportive of the stadium move and to keep our club playing League of Ireland football in Donegal. Finn Harps will have to acquire the land in Stranorlar from the Council and then swap the new stadium for Finn Park with Trustees when complete. This will then allow the sale of Finn Park to repay any loans outstanding.

In 2007 legal agreements were drawn which agreed to the sale of Finn Park when the new stadium is complete and the Trust have transferred their ownership to the new stadium.  In the event that we have raised sufficient funds through fundraising to repay the bridging finance in full, and enter the stadium debt free, then the need to sell Finn Park can be reassessed.

Why not get an investor?

If there was a viable investor out there we believe that they would have approached us by now.  If a potential investor was not local they would most likely want full control of the club, which would expose the club to significant risk.

Furthermore, it would significantly stall the stadium project time frame as a lot of the funding currently on the table would not be available to a new corporate entity.  There would also potentially be a reduction in operational income currently provided by voluntary contributions and volunteer help.

We get 3 to 4 investment enquiries per year and not a single one to date has provided the basics to be able to present the offer to shareholders, from business plan to proof of funds or “know your client” information. We take pride in the fact that we are a fan owned club and our ethos is built around that, whilst we have a duty to report any credible bids, we do not believe spending time looking for this is the best route to go.

Did the club submit an application for Immigrant Investor Visas?

Yes. The Club has created a new Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) for the sole purpose of developing extra pitches and facilities for the Academy and submitted an application to the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) to fund this development.  Our application was submitted on time and we await news from the Dept of Justice.

Note: if successful, the IIP money cannot be used as matching funding for the stadium so would be used to further develop club facilities.

How can I help fundraise?

Any donation to our iDonate Platform at any level will be gratefully received, donations from any individual over €250 qualifies for donation to an Approved Sporting Body and the tax relief can also be donated. If anyone wishes to organise any related fundraiser of any kind to raise sponsorship for the project, the iDonate platform allows the creation of a fundraiser within our overall platform.  To do this simply click on ‘start fundraising’ on our iDonate landing page.  Please contact any club director if you require any assistance or email [email protected]

Can I donate anonymously by bank transfer?
Yes, send funds to:

Finn Harps Co-Operative Society Limited

Bank Of Ireland


Co Donegal


IBAN: IE17 BOFI 9047 1236 7798 10


Why introduce an annual membership fee for shareholders?

In accordance with our existing rule book the Cooperative Society can introduce an annual charge for members when, and for the amount, agreed by the members at a meeting. As this is a monumental point in the history of our club we indicated at the most recent AGM that we would like to move towards a membership model subject to adoption at a Special General Meeting.

We are a fan-owned club and as we don’t have a private investor, nor can we expect our local council to fully fund the development as was the case with the wonderful facility provided by South Dublin County Council at Tallaght Stadium. As shareholders, and therefore owners, it falls on our shoulders. If we don’t do it, we will be excluded from senior football eventually. We will also be reaching out to the wider community of the County and Region for support by means of a Stadium Supporter membership option which does not include ownership/voting rights.

Do other League of Ireland Clubs have membership structures?

Yes, examples include:

  • Bohemians have approximately 2400 Club Members paying €365 a year (includes a season ticket).
  • Shamrock Rovers have 750 members paying €600 a year (Includes a Season ticket).
  • Sligo Rovers have over 800 members paying €240 which also pays for their 500 Club, most of these also buy a season ticket at €290.

How will the new memberships work for someone who is not currently a shareholder?

The current shareholder class will be closed to new entrants, and existing shareholders will need to take out a membership to continue to have voting rights at AGMs/SGMs.  Any new member will have full voting rights after the first 12 monthly payments (or the full fee paid in advance of the first general meeting).

Previous fundraisers were held for the stadium- is the money from those still there?

Money from the 2022 draw and London event already held has already been spent on various professional fees related to the project which fall outside grant aid.  The expertise and masses of work contributed by our ground development committee have however saved us professional fees that could conservatively be put in six figures and we thank them once again for their incredible efforts.

I am a shareholder, what happens to my share if I can’t afford the membership fee?

Any member that does not pay membership fees remains as a shareholder however they do not have voting or participation rights, these are current rules in our rule book. Voting rights are restored when membership fees commence again.

For shareholders who purchased their share in the past 18 months, they will be entitled to have 18  months free membership, less the number of months from the date of purchase to the date of launch.


Member joined December 2023, scheme launches April 2024 – 5 months less 18 months = 13 months free membership.

What about the soup?

There are no plans to change the soup.