PSNI officials have offered assurances to Portadown Football Club over supporter safety ahead of next weekend’s Irish Cup semi-final at The Oval.
The decision to host Portadown’s tie against Ballymena United on March 21 with a 5.30 kick-off time led to fans voicing concerns about spectator safety.
Our fans will be in the away side of the ground, with tickets not required due to the venue’s capacityBill Emerson
A conference call and meeting between representatives from the two teams, host club Glentoran and the PSNI helped to clarify the situation.
“Given history in the past of attacks on Portadown fans outside the ground, it was an issue a number of supporters raised with the club,” said Portadown club secretary Bill Emerson. “The police have assured us that, given the reconstruction of the area and the presence assigned, fans would not have any problems getting into and out of The Oval.
“Our fans will be in the away side of the ground, with tickets not required due to the venue’s capacity.
“Admission at the turnstiles has been set at £12 for adults or £7 concession.
“The staggered kick-off times between our match at 5.30 but Glentoran against Crusaders from 3 o’clock is due to Radio Ulster’s desire to broadcast live coverage of both ties.”
Concerns initially discussed last Thursday via a conference call were then emphasised at IFA headquarters on Monday during a face-to-face security meeting.
“There was an incident before kick-off on Saturday in the match between Portadown and Glentoran at Shamrock Park when bottles were thrown outside the ground and the police called to respond,” said Emerson. “That strengthened our view of the situation but we were, again, given assurances by the police on Monday.”
Members of the Ports’ Official Travel Club are requested to purchase a bus ticket from the Shamrock Park club shop in advance of transport to the Irish Cup semi-final. The shop was open last night (Thursday) from 6-8 o’clock or members can buy a travel ticket tomorrow (Saturday).
Richhill Reds Supporters’ Club officials would request anyone interested in attending the semi-final with the fans’ group to contact an officer bearer by tomorrow (Saturday) to confirm a seat.