For the first time ever Christmas morning’s Steel and Sons Cup Final will be an all-ticket affair.
The decision was taken by Belfast City Council after too many people were let into Seaview for last season’s decider between Bangor and Larne.
The move has sparked fears that the all-ticket policy will hurt the overall attendance at the showpiece final between Ards and Glentoran Seconds.
Glentoran Seconds boss Spike Hill says while he understands the decision, he does think it will make it difficult for some fans to attend.
“I can understand why this decision has been taken, as at last year’s final it was clear there were more people in the ground than there were seats,” he said.
“But I know it’s awkward for both clubs and particularly for neutrals, who now can’t make a snap decision about whether or not to attend the final on Christmas morning.
“Everyone has a lot of running about to do a week before Christmas, so it’s difficult to find time to go into town and search out the tickets from a shop or a social club. I have a feeling it will hurt the crowd, but hopefully there is still a huge attendance.”
Hill’s side are surprise finalists, knocking out Championship Two side Ballyclare Comerades in the semi-finals.
Needless to say the Glens boss is incredibly proud of his young teams achievement.
“It’s a great achievement for our boys and they fully deserve it as they’ve worked incredibly hard.
“It’s more difficult than ever for a reserve team to make it to a Steel & Sons Cup or Intermediate Cup final, so this is something to be very proud of.
“As you can’t play in the competition if you’ve played 12 times for the senior side this season, our cup final squad are nearly all youngsters – and even some of our young players like Jim O’Hanlon and John McGuigan are ineligible.”
Although Hill believes his sides are the underdogs, he is still pleased to be facing Niall Currie’s men in the final.
“I’m pleased we are playing Ards in the final as like us they like to play good football, which will hopefully make the final a good spectacle.
“Let’s be honest, Ards are clear, clear favourites to lift the cup. They’ve a squad of 21 players, many of whom have top-level experience and are at least top-class Championship players.
“We’re under no illusions, Ards wouldn’t be leading the Championship if they weren’t a top team. This will be a great test for my squad, against a team from a higher level.”