33% hike in Irish Cup Final tickets criticised
The Irish Football Association (IFA) has been criticised over a 33% increase on adult ticket prices for this year's Irish Cup Final.
Finalists Linfield FC have strongly objected to the decision, which means adult tickets have gone up from £15 to £20.
Liam Beckett, a former player of their opponents Coleraine and an Irish League pundit, said "working class people were being held to ransom".
The IFA has defended the move.
Ticket prices for the final were set by the Challenge Cup Committee of the Irish FA, which is made up of representatives of clubs, it said.
"After running costs, 80% of the gate receipts will be split evenly between the two competing finalists," it added.
The association has also indicated it has an online family offer enabling supporters "to save 15% when purchasing a family of four ticket (two adults plus two children)".
Cheapest adult ticket prices at five sporting events (2016)
- Football Association of Ireland Cup Final (Aviva Stadium, Dublin) - £8.49 (10 euros)
- Ulster GAA Senior Football Final (St. Tiernach's Park, Clones) - £15
- Irish Open Golf (The K Club, Straffan) - £25.44 for a daily pass
- Ice Hockey Elite League play-off finals (National Ice Centre, Nottingham) - £41 for a daily pass
- European Rugby Champions Cup final (Grande Stade de Lyon) - £21.20
Linfield FC said its representatives had attended a briefing meeting earlier this week about the final which is scheduled to take place on 6 May at Windsor Park, which has a capacity of 18,600.
The club said it was told that ticket prices for the game would be £20 for adults and £10 for seniors and juniors.
Linfield "registered its strong objections to this decision, on the basis that it was a significant increase on prices for last year's final, but were advised that the decision was final", it said in a statement,
It understood supporters would be frustrated and angry at the arrangements made for the cup final. "But we must not let this deflect from our objective to get fully behind the team in this vitally important game," it added.
Former Cliftonville manager Liam Beckett said he feared the cup final attendance would be hit by the price increase.
"Yet again the working class supporter is being hit in the pocket and instead of trying to fill what is a fabulous new stadium in Windsor Park, the people who have set these prices have gone a long way in making sure there will be thousands of empty seats," he told BBC NI's Good Morning Ulster programme.
Irish Cup final attendances
- 2016 Glenavon v Linfield (Windsor Park) - 11,500
- 2015 Glentoran v Portadown (The Oval) - 8,072
- 2014 Ballymena v Glenavon (Windsor Park) - 7,282
Football reporter Steven Beacom said the IFA had missed an "open goal" and highlighted the difference in ticket prices for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Cup Final in the Republic of Ireland.
"The IFA are asking people to pay £20 per ticket for the Irish Cup Final, if you go to the Republic of Ireland to see the FAI Cup Final you only have to pay 10 euros (£8.50)," he said.
"Last year at the FAI cup final there were 26,500 people inside the ground and the atmosphere was brilliant.
"It was giving people who might not have gone to that cup final a chance to see a big game."