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Tuesday 18 May 2021
Irish FA urges cup final spectators to help pave way for return of large events

The Irish Football Association has urged fans attending this year’s Irish Cup final to play a positive role in helping to pave the way for the return of large scale spectator events in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed that the cup final - it is being staged on Friday (21 May) at Mourneview Park in Lurgan - will be used as a “learning event” and up to 1000 fans will be able to sign up to attend.

It said the staging of the showpiece match will form part of a study to inform the future safe return of spectators to large scale venues in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Football Association has urged fans who will be attending the game to conform with the rules and regulations surrounding it.

Sean Murphy, the association’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “This is a great opportunity for the Irish FA and for football fans to help inform the return of increased numbers of spectators to our games and other sporting events. 

“We would urge anyone who is allocated a ticket by one of the finalists to comply with the terms and conditions for attendance. This means taking lateral flow tests before and after the event and doing the right thing if they test positive before the event.

“It also means following public health advice on travelling to and from the venue, following guidance at the event, including the mandatory wearing of face coverings, and providing feedback on the matchday experience after the event through a survey.”

Department for Communities officials have been working with Sport NI, councils, the Sports Ground Safety Authority and governing bodies of various sports throughout the lockdown period on developing guidance for a return of spectators to stadiums. 

While all the governing bodies have expressed an interest in assisting with learning events, the Irish Cup is the first significant stadium event as Northern Ireland emerges from the latest Covid restrictions, the COO explained.

“The Irish FA will be delivering the event and it presents a timely opportunity for an Executive-led logistical and operational learning event in a stadium that is capable of accommodating up to 1000 fans in a safe manner with social distancing and mitigations in place,” he added.

Arrangements for the staging of the match include access to the game, which will be strictly controlled and on a ticket-only basis to enable contact tracing systems to work effectively.

In addition spectators, teams and staff will be required to take a Covid test before and after the match, with proof of a negative result to be provided on arrival.

Facilities for random sampling of spectators are going to be available on site to help assess the effectiveness of the testing programme. “This will be on a voluntary basis and fans’ assistance with this would be appreciated,” said Mr Murphy.

Social distancing measures are set to be in place at the event and face coverings must be worn at all times in the stadium, while no food or beverages will be served at the game.

The Executive further revealed the behaviours of spectators are going to be monitored and fans will be invited to provide feedback after the event.

The Irish FA, in association with the Executive, has also created an FAQs (frequently asked questions) document for fans attending the final on Friday. It can be accessed below.

FAQs

What is the aim of this Learning event?

How was this event decided?

Who is attending this event?

Will social distancing be in place for this event?

Will participants need to wear a mask?

Isn’t there a risk running this event with large numbers of people?

Isn’t there a risk that running this event with large numbers of people is just going to spread the virus further?

What Covid safety measures will be in place at the ground?

What conditions must I agree to in order to attend the event?

Who is collecting my data?

What personal data will be collected from participants in order to attend the event?

What will happen if participants do not provide this data?

Is there an age limit for attendance?

What type of testing is involved?

What testing verification must I show to enter the grounds?

What happens if someone refuses to show a test result will they be denied entry?

Will participants have to pay for testing?

Will the test kits be sent with the tickets?

What testing verification must I show to enter the grounds?

What happens if someone is unable to provide evidence of a negative test result?

Will participants have to pay for testing?

How do participants prove they have had a Lateral Flow Device test and that the result is negative?

What should participants do if they get a positive result from a Lateral Flow Test?

Do I need to take a PCR test?

What should I do if I get a positive PCR test result?

Are those attendees who are under 16 required to take part in testing?

Waste water and environmental testing (contact surfaces and Air)

Will spectators be charged for tickets?

How will tickets be distributed?

How do you recommend people travel to pilot events?

If I can no longer attend, can I pass on/change the name on my ticket?

What time should participants arrive?

How will fans be seated at the Cup final?

Will the usual facilities within venues such as toilets and hospitality be open?

Will alcohol be allowed at the event?

At what time should I arrive at the event?

How will entry and egress be managed?

Can family members sit together?

Is singing or music allowed?

How will movement inside the venue be managed?

Will I be refunded if I test positive between purchasing my ticket but before the event?

How will those who require assistance/accompanying person be accommodated?