11/05/2011

IFA To Discuss 'Travel Solution' For Matches

NI soccer bosses are to look again at their controversial travel arrangements for fans at away matches - but are so far still insisting that Northern Ireland supporters have no choice but to use a costly and exclusive deal with one single coach provider.

On Monday night, hundreds of fans attended a packed meeting in south Belfast to voice criticism for what they said is "overcharging" for travel to Dublin for this month's Nations Cup game.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) said that fans must only travel on its coaches - using a single travel firm - Travel Solutions.

But angry fans voted to boycott the matches instead with the crowded meeting at Newforge vowing to give next week's match a 'by-ball' and not attend the Republic match in Dublin.

A statement issued afterwards said: "The Amalgamation of Official NI Supporters Clubs (AONISC) find it difficult to accept that the cost of putting in place the necessary stewarding and arrangements for travelling fans could reach a figure potentially in excess of £1,100 per coach, without considerable profiteering."
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Last night, the fans' fears were addressed by the IFA, which reconfirmed that the decision to link tickets with organised transport was taken in the interest of safety and security for fans and in consultation with the PSNI and Gardaí.

However, there are to be further last minute discussions: "The transport fee of £30 per person was based on a large requirement of coaches, but now that these are not required, the Association will be meeting to review the whole position," said a statement.

"Should there be any changes these will be communicated to all block bookers/NI fans members."

Also commenting, Nigel Worthington, Northern Ireland Manager said: "I would like to see as many Northern Ireland fans support the team in Dublin.

"The support of the fans is vital to the team as they do act as our '12th man'," he said, noting that tickets are still on sale for block bookers or members of NI Fans at the Irish FA.

Jim Shaw, President of the IFA said: "The Irish FA relies on the support of our fans and we do appreciate their contribution both on and off the field."

See: 'Travel Solution' Rejected By NI Soccer Fans

(BMcC/GK)

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