Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Crowd safety anywhere is paramount but there needs to be a level playing field

Elfin Safety (especially important at Christmas) is said to be the reason football's Co Antrim Shield final, between Linfield and Crusaders at The Oval next month, has been made all-ticket, so much to the Blues' chagrin they have refused to sell a single one.

So who's right here, Linfield or Health and Safety?

It is only right and proper that crowds are regulated when they gather in large numbers, with easy access to alcohol, giving rise to the potential for bad behaviour.

No argument there.

So why isn't the Christmas Market all-ticket... in the confined space of the City Hall grounds, as opposed to the Shield final in the wide, open acre of The Oval?

More people will pass through the Market that day than the Oval turnstiles that December 4 night, 4,000 being a hopeful expectation, hingeing on the weather and a televised English Premiership programme also scheduled (do our local football suits ever check the fixture lists beyond these shores?).

Crowd safety anywhere is paramount but there needs to be a level playing field and a common sense approach to the kind of match where the crowd is likely to be rattling around inside The Oval, where no alcohol is consumed out of doors, while at the same time the City Hall pathways are sardine packed and the beer tents are overflowing.

I love the Christmas Market and I love football. But can we please make the only difference between them the price of the burgers?

Meeting called over Co Antrim Shield ticket row 

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