The Irish Cup final is traditionally known as the ‘biggest day out’ in local football, where fans of both clubs turn out in their numbers, whether they be hardcore or fairweather supporters, this is the one game everyone wants to attend. That includes a number of neutrals from various clubs throughout the country alongside plenty of honorary guests.
Tickets are traditionally obtained for these games through the clubs themselves, with long queues outside the ticket offices in the remaining matches of the league campaign, with all desperate to get their hands on tickets for themselves, friends and family.
However, this year’s final may be a little bit different. Both Portadown and Glentoran have been informed that tickets can only be purchased through Ticketmaster - an American ticket sales and distribution company, most closely associated with tickets for music concerts. Tickets will be available through the supplier both online and via Ticketmaster outlets.
These tickets will have a designated seat number within Windsor Park, which will potentially be problematic for those wishing to sit together and may also be tricky to enforce on the day, where wrong seats being taken can lead to mass confusion.
It is believed that this method of ticketing will be the norm for fixtures at Windsor Park from now on, with the move set to be implemented across other grounds across Northern Ireland in the coming months.
The allocated seats system is used for Northern Ireland fixtures, while Ticketmaster is also used for other sporting fixtures such as Ulster Rugby and the Belfast Giants.
The news has initially been met by disdain by fans of both the Ports and the Glens, who believe that those fans who aren’t internet savvy may have trouble collecting tickets, while many have also expressed concern that allocated seating will also be hugely inconvenient to many, as fans will only be allowed to purchase tickets for a specific stand.
Online ticketing is something that has been in the pipeline for local football for years, but it has come as a surprise that tickets can solely be purchased through Ticketmaster, rather than both them and the clubs. It is also expected that a service charge for booking will be added to ticket prices – which is the norm for Ticketmaster.
It is yet unclear if clubs themselves will attempt to buy tickets en mass from the company to sell through the club.