World Cup qualifiers: Windsor Park to host 16,000 fans for Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Fans
A total of 13,000 fans attended the Uefa Super Cup final at Windsor Park on 11 August

Belfast's Windsor Park will be at 85% capacity for Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Switzerland on 8 September.

With 16,000 fans permitted to attend, it will be the biggest crowd at a sporting event in Northern Ireland since before the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

The stadium welcomed 13,000 fans for the Uefa Super Cup on 11 August.

Fans will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Northern Ireland have not played in front of a full house at home since their 0-0 draw with the Netherlands in November 2019.

While more than 1,000 fans attended their Euro 2020 play-off final last November, September's fixture will be by far the biggest crowd manager Ian Baraclough has experienced since taking on the role.

There will be no ticket allocation for travelling Swiss fans following a joint Fifa and Uefa ruling earlier this month that away fans would not be permitted to travel to matches due to recent Covid spikes in Europe.

NI v Netherlands
Northern Ireland have not played in front of a full house at Windsor Park since their Euro 2020 qualifier against the Netherlands on 16 November 2019

The Northern Ireland FA had previously stated its hopes for such a crowd to return for an international fixtures after the Super Cup between Chelsea and Villareal was widely deemed a success.

"We have proven that the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park can host fans safely and responsibly and I look forward to welcoming our brilliant fans back," said IFA chief Patrick Nelson.

"We've worked closely and in collaboration with our partners to make this happen and I thank them for their teamwork."

The game against Switzerland will be Northern Ireland's third in seven days, with their international window opening with a Group C qualifier away to Lithuania on 2 September before a friendly with Estonia in Tallinn three days later.

Baraclough has acknowledged that Northern Ireland, third in the group with one point from their opening two matches, must defeat Lithuania in order to maintain any hope of reaching next year's finals in Qatar.

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - Sounds

Top Stories