Kingspan Stadium was never an option for Irish Cup final, says IFA boss Patrick Nelson
Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson has revealed that playing this year's Irish Cup final at the Kingspan Stadium was NEVER an option.
With Windsor Park unavailable due to structural problems with the Kop stand, the IFA took the decision to play the final between Glentoran and Portadown at the Oval at May 2.
It was not a popular move at the time with the Ports and Glens both stating their belief that the decider should have taken place at the home of Ulster Rugby which could house 9,000 fans, 3,000 more than was originally thought would get into the Oval.
Now the Glens are making moves to raise the attendance for the final to 9,000 by erecting 3,000 temporary seats for their own fans behind the goal on the hill.
They want the IFA to give approval to the plan.
"We are hoping this can happen," a Glentoran source told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We want as many fans as possible to see the Irish Cup final and we believe we have come up with a plan to make this happen."
Light at the end of the tunnel then?
That appeared to be the case yesterday when supporters were granted their wish over another controversial IFA decision relating to the Cup final.
Bar season ticket holders and shareholders, supporters of Glentoran and Portadown had been told they had to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster, with fears that some fans could end up in the wrong section of the ground.
There was much joy and satisfaction when it was announced that the two clubs had been put in charge of ALL the tickets, which will go on sale in due course.
Stuart Andrews from the Official Portadown FC Travel Club summed up the mood among the supporters.
He said: "This is great news and I'm delighted the two clubs stood their ground on this issue. I personally believe this will mean more fans who go on a regular basis to games will be able to get tickets from their respective club shops.
"I'm very pleased in particular for elderly supporters who may not have access or knowledge of going on the internet to buy tickets from Ticketmaster. It is a sensible decision."
Still, there is much anger from fans towards the IFA for how they have handled the final.
IFA Chief Executive Nelson said Kingspan was never considered.
He stated: "We wanted to keep it in the football family.
"There was an analysis done of alternative grounds within the football family and the Oval came out the best."
Asked if he had sympathy for fans who could still potentially miss out on a ticket, Nelson simply said: "We are going to try and make it the best game that we can. That is what we are aiming to do."
Pressed on the issue, he said: "I appreciate that some of the fans who want to see the final live may not be able to do it and that's a disappointment for everyone."
In the Belfast Telegarph earlier in the week Portadown boss Ronnie McFall accused the IFA of treating supporters like 'second class citizens'.
Nelson's response: "I'm not going to say anything.
"I'm not going to respond to opinions.
"Ronnie is entitled to make comments in the press as is anyone else and they make them from whatever viewpoint they wish."
On the general criticism dished out to the IFA over next month's showdown, Nelson added: "People are entitled to their opinions.
"What we are here to do is make the best decisions possible."