Local fans face ticket rush for Super Cup at Windsor Park
Football fans in Northern Ireland will have a better chance of purchasing tickets for the UEFA Super Cup at Windsor Park in August 2021 if English clubs aren't involved in the showpiece occasion.
After the coup by Irish FA President David Martin and his team in the bidding process, there is great excitement across the country at the thought of the glamour match between next season's Champions League winners and Europa League victors being staged in Belfast.
But with a capacity of 18,000 at Windsor, the demand for tickets from people in Northern Ireland is certain to outstrip supply.
Ticket details for the game won't be announced until June 2021 but if this year's Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul is anything to go by, supporters of the two participating clubs and the general public will be allocated around 80% of the seats at the stadium.
The remaining seats will be set aside for the local organising committee, UEFA and national associations, commercial partners and broadcasters.
Given their close proximity to Belfast, should English sides such as Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal or Spurs make it to the 2021 Super Cup, there would be an expectancy amongst the organisers that supporters of those clubs would take up their full allocation of tickets meaning fewer would be available for the general public.
History suggests, though, when fans have to travel longer distances for this fixture numbers of spectators are much more limited.
For August’s Super Cup in Turkey, it was mostly locals who made up the 38,000 crowd with Liverpool taking 5,973 tickets and Chelsea only 1,314. For the Istanbul match, won on penalties by Jurgen Klopp’s team, Uefa allocated 78% of tickets to the clubs and general public.
If European superpowers Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus qualify for Belfast, the feeling is they would not need as many tickets which, in turn, would make more available for the Northern Ireland public, who are renowned for supporting big sporting events.
Prices for the 2021 Super Cup range from £44 to £133 depending on the position of the seat. The higher fees are expensive but, on the upside, fans will be guaranteed to see two of the best club teams in the world and numerous superstar players.
Over the past decade, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Sevilla, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Porto and Inter Milan have played in the Super Cup.
When the competition began in 1973, it was staged on a two-legged basis at the home of each participant. From 1998 to 2012 it was switched to Monaco and from 2013, Uefa have been taking the game around Europe. They feel the time is right to bring it to Northern Ireland.
Windsor is a smaller ground in comparison to most national stadiums on the continent but is larger than the 2018 venue, the A Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, Estonia which has a 14,000 capacity.
The IFA had previously lost out on Super Cup bids twice before but came up trumps this week. Preparations to host the fixture, watched by millions around the globe, will now begin with Northern Ireland football’s governing body determined, along with Uefa, to put on the best event possible and showcase Windsor Park and the city.