Rangers fans and Pope pilgrims in ferry scramble
Hundreds of Rangers football fans from Northern Ireland have been competing with papal pilgrims to get seats on board ferries across the Irish Sea to get to Glasgow on Saturday.
The scores of Glasgow Rangers supporters have been unable to get places on ferry crossings to Scotland because of high demand from other passengers, including Catholics going to see the Pope on his historic visit to Britain this weekend.
Several Rangers supporters clubs who normally take coaches across with Stena Line found that group bookings were not being accepted for the popular 7.30am crossing from Belfast this Saturday. As a result coachloads of supporters have been unable to travel to the home game at Ibrox against Dundee United.
“I’m a season ticket-holder and can’t get to the match this weekend,” one Belfast fan said. “My supporters’ club has gone to every home game for the past 35 years. This is the first time this has ever happened. We were told there was no space, that it was a really busy weekend with the Ayr races, students going home and the Pope’s visit.”
Flights to Scotland and the P&O ferries from Larne are also booked out.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, who has been contacted by a number of Rangers Supporters Clubs, said they will want to know that the fans have not been refused a group booking to sail together.
“I understand that Stena Line identified as early as June that demand was likely to be high this Saturday due to a number of events coinciding,” the DUP MP said. “It is disappointing that no special measures were made.”
The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact Stena Line for comment last night. However, a spokeswoman told the DUP that places were sold on a first come, first served basis and that it is just a busy Saturday.