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Armagh’s cash plan has fans sitting on investments

By John Campbell

The Armagh county board last night formally launched a novel fund-raising scheme to help offset part of the cost of refurbishing the Athletic Grounds.

A magnificent new 5,600-capacity grandstand is the outstanding feature of the renovations and now the board aims to sell every seat for £100.

The buyer will have a seat permanently named after him or her on payment of this sum thus giving them a closer association with the venue.

Tickets will then, of course, be sold on a match-by-match basis for all seats, but if the board is successful in its initial marketing operation, then some £560,000 will be raised.

County PRO Joe Jordan believes that this visionary concept will prove a success given the voracious appetite there is within the county to see major matches being staged once again at the Athletic Grounds.

“Obviously massive sums of money have already been spent on refurbishing the ground, but we would be confident that this project will work,” said Jordan.

“People have already shown that they would like to have a dedicated seat named after them as their investment in the future of Armagh football.”

Since 1996 Armagh, one of the best supported teams in the entire country, have played all their Ulster and All-Ireland championship matches away from home with St Tiernach’s Park Clones in particular something of a second home to Orchard County fans.

Despite this, Armagh won an All-Ireland title in 2002 and have claimed seven Ulster titles in the last 11 years.

National League games meanwhile were played at Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen, but now the Athletic Grounds will once again become the real hub of football in the county.

The venue, which boasts two magnificent new stands, excellent floodlighting and state of the art facilities, now has a capacity of 20,000 and it will be formally unveiled when Dublin are the visitors for the opening game in Division One of the National League on Saturday week.

“We could hardly have wished for a more attractive pairing,” says Jordan. “We expect that the capacity of the ground will be well tested for this match. Dublin have already said they will be bringing a big travelling support.”

Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke believes that the return of top-flight football to the Athletic Grounds can further galvanise the Orchard County side.

“We have some of the really big guns coming to us in the league and we have Down as visitors at the end of May — that will be something,” said O’Rourke.

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