DUP keep pressure on Irish FA over Northern Ireland ticket prices

A DUP delegation has met with the Irish FA to discuss ticket prices for Northern Ireland games at Windsor Park – a bone of contention with fans over recent days.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 6:47 pm
Northern Ireland fans during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Switzerland. Photo by Niall Carson/PA Wire

The cheapest ticket for the recent game against Switzerland came in at £52 meaning a family of four attending would have to pay over £200.

The meeting with DUP MLAs William Humphrey, David Hilditch and Stephen Dunne followed discussions with the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs around those same concerns over ticket pricing and membership schemes.

William Humphrey said: “The meeting was a useful opportunity to put forward the concerns raised with us by both individual Northern Ireland fans, and through our recent engagement with the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs.

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DUP MLAs Stephen Dunne, David Hilditch, William Humphrey after their meeting with the IFA on Thursday

“In full and frank discussions with the chief executive and senior figures from the Irish Football Association we made clear that fans believed a more realistic pricing structure is required going forward.

“There was understandable concern over the pricing of the recent Switzerland match, alongside frustrations with the ‘GAWA Membership Scheme’ which many perceived as opportunistic profiteering on the backs of one of world football’s most loyal supporter bases.

“It is vital the IFA learn lessons for future matches and campaigns, both in terms of pricing but also in how they communicate with and listen to Northern Ireland fans.”

David Hilditch MLA stated: “Excessive pricing not only causes resentment, it feels to fans like an abuse of their loyalty at a time when others in our society, and indeed in football, have sought to serve their communities at a time of great need during the global pandemic.

“Almost a third of Campaign Card holders didn’t avail of the GAWA Official Membership Scheme which would indicate some level of disconnect between the Associations strategy and support. I would encourage the IFA to repair relationships with fans by looking at ways they can celebrate and thank their fanbase for their support.”

Stephen Dunne said: “In recent years the family friendly atmosphere at Windsor Park on matchday has been a source of pride, something we have all celebrated and promoted. Indeed, our fans have received awards for their conduct and the atmosphere they create, both home and away across Europe.

“If the IFA want families and ordinary fans to attend and encourage the next generation of the GAWA, they must ensure ticket prices are realistic and affordable. The pricing of the recent fixture at Windsor Park compares very unfavourably not only to the IFA’s counterparts in the rest of the UK but also across Europe.”

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