N. Ireland Politics

Linfield v Glentoran ticket plans outlined

Riot police at game
Image caption Riot police had to restore order at the fixture two years ago

Linfield have said the decision to allocate just 2,500 tickets to Glentoran fans for the 27 December Irish premier league football clash was down to a number of factors.

Some Glentoran fans have criticised the allocation.

Club secretary Ken Greer said while the trouble at the Windsor Park fixture two years ago was one of the factors, it was not the overriding one.

Crowd trouble disrupted the 2008 Boxing Day game between Belfast's "Big Two".

Both clubs have a £40,000 suspended fine hanging over them as a result.

Missiles were thrown by rival fans and the match was held up for seven minutes while riot police restored order.

This year's match will see the lower deck of the North Stand - where most of the trouble took place two years ago - closed off, meaning thousands fewer Glentoran fans will be able to attend.

Mr Greer said while what happened in 2008 played a part in the decision, other factors were equally important.

He said under Windsor Park's certification, there were different capacities for domestic games as opposed to international matches which the ground also hosts.

"At a domestic game, especially a contentious domestic game like a Big Two game, not all gates can be opened for spectators to exit, because obviously Glentoran supporters and Linfield supporters are kept apart," he said.

"The second point is there's considerations around the North Stand itself and the fact that there's now forward evacuation onto the pitch from the North Stand lower deck.

"That means if we decide to open the lower deck of the North Stand, the additional security costs would have to be met to protect those gates, plus we have to stop people migrating from the upper deck of the North Stand to the lower deck."

He added: "You take that on board and then you remember that there was trouble at the same fixture in 2008 and there's still a £40,000 fine hanging over both clubs should there be a repeat to that.

"When you take all that into consideration then Glentoran have been given 2,500 tickets for the upper deck of the North Stand."

There will be 4,600 home fans at the game, giving a capacity of 7,100, although Mr Greer said some additional seating could be put in for Linfield fans in the South Stand.

Mr Greer said the reasons for cutting Glentoran's ticket allocation had been explained to the club.

"All this was discussed in full at a pre-match planning meeting at which Glentoran were represented on 26 November," he said

"So they are well aware of the issues because it was fully discussed and certainly we've had no further contact from Glentoran officials in respect of any increased capacity."