Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran v Portadown: Fans angry Irish Cup final tickets will only be sold on Ticketmaster

Tickets for showpiece can only be bought online and with £1.50 surcharge

By Adrian Rutherford

Angry football fans are kicking up a fuss after it emerged tickets for this season's Irish Cup final will only be sold via Ticketmaster.

Up to 10,000 supporters are expected at Windsor Park to see Glentoran take on Portadown in local football's biggest game of the season.

But for the first time tickets for the May 2 showpiece will only be sold online.

It means fans will face a surcharge on tickets, while they will have less control over where they want to sit.

Alliance MP Naomi Long has now taken up the case, and has written to the Irish Football Association urging a U-turn.

Fans have also hit out at the ticketing arrangements.

They include Ricky Rea junior, a lifelong Glentoran fan, who said he was considering boycotting the final.

"It would be a big game to miss, but out of principle, I'm considering not going," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Rea said he had a number of concerns about the ticketing arrangements.

"One is the safety aspect, as fans will just be issued with tickets. If a supporter has been banned from matches, they can buy online without any checks," he said.

"I also totally and utterly refuse to pay a £1.50 administration cost for a ticket.

"Not every fan has got access to the internet to book a ticket - how will elderly people get their tickets?"

Mr Rea added: "I'm still debating on whether to get a ticket, but I do know of a lot of people who won't go if they have to pay an admin cost."

Another fan, Jodie Killops, said it was "a recipe for disaster".

"Glentoran is more than just a football club," she said. "We are like a family. We meet up every week. We sit with friends and enjoy 90 minutes watching our team. To now be told we can't choose where to sit and that we have to book our tickets has put a massive dampener on this day.

"As a club we have been in many finals and there has never been any trouble."

Supporters have also taken to the internet to voice their feelings. Some have threatened to buy tickets for the opposition's section in protest at the ticketing arrangements.

Others voiced fears that the atmosphere could be ruined.

One Portadown fan wrote: "I won't be sitting in any allocated seat, people who will want to create an atmosphere will want to be grouped together."

Another posted: "Bunches of young lads singing gets the atmosphere going on both sides but they all need to be able to get together in the first place." A third concerned fan said it was a "recipe for potential mayhem", adding: "What's to stop a crowd of idiots from either side buying tickets for the opposite end?"

Ms Long said she was approached by Glentoran-supporting constituents about the issue, and has raised their concerns with the IFA.

"I have written to the IFA to ask they reconsider and allow clubs to sell their own allocations, as I feel using Ticketmaster may lead to more problems than solutions in relation to this game," she said.

"It would be a pity if local football's showpiece spectacle was allowed to be overshadowed by factors that are easily solvable."

The Irish FA couldn't be reached for comment yesterday afternoon.

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