Police offer assurances to Ports over semi-final safety concerns

PSNI officials today (Thursday) offered assurances to Portadown Football Club over supporter safety ahead of next month’s Irish Cup semi-final at The Oval.

The decision to host Portadown’s tie against Ballymena United at The Oval on Saturday, March 21 with a 5.30 kick-off time led to fans voicing concerns about spectator safety.

A conference call held today 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 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.

“We will meet in IFA headquarters on Monday to deal in greater detail with the security aspects as today’s call covered a number of areas.”