Officials from Glenavon Football Club met recently with a Linfield FC representative to discuss the difficulties experienced by our supporters gaining access to Windsor Park before the recent league fixture in August. The main points of that discussion are summarised below.
- It was explained that normal practice is that prior to a game a number of tickets are printed off from the Ticketmaster system and given to the ticket staff for sale. The amount printed is based on the estimated attendance for the game. Unfortunately the number of Concession tickets provided originally, 100, was inadequate and sold out rapidly before kick off. The fact that these tickets were about to sell out was not communicated in a timely manner which lead to a delay in printing more tickets and delivering these to the ticket office. The Linfield representative acknowledged this was not acceptable and we were assured that measures will be put in place to ensure that this does not happen again when we next visit Windsor Park.
- We are aware that some supporters did not wait for these additional tickets to arrive and decided to pay an Adult ticket instead at an additional cost. A number of fans reported that they did this on the understanding that they would receive a £3 refund at half time but were subsequently unable to do so. This was raised with the Linfield official during the meeting. He indicated that he could not understand how this offer could have been made as the ticket point closes 15/20 minutes after kick off.
- We did acknowledge that in order to alleviate congestion the Stadium Safety did allow a number of our young fans into the game for free. We are grateful for his efforts.
- A number of our supporters had also complained that because of mobility issues they had great difficulty accessing the upper tier of the North Stand. During our discussion we were informed that the Upper Tier will continue to house visiting fans in the future. We were assured, however, that there is a facility for the Lower Tier to be made available to supporters with mobility issues if they make themselves known to Security staff. Arrangements will also be put in place to accommodate in the South Stand supporters who requires the use of a wheelchair. Any supporter who wishes to avail of this facility should contact the Glenavon office prior to our next game at Windsor Park to ensure the necessary arrangements are put in place.
- It was explained to us that the facility for cash payment at turnstiles no longer exists. The redevelopment of the stadium includes the introduction of unmanned turnstiles with all supporters required to purchase a ticket to gain access. During our visit we discussed a number of possible alternative ‘ticket office’ sites to that used in August.
- Plans for the development of the Stadium and surrounding area include proposals for new facilities at the Midgely Park site. When these are completed this will allow access for visiting supporters to the North Stand. This work is unlikely to be completed, however, during the 2016/17 season and in the interim supporters will continue to access the stadium via the Donegall Avenue entrance.
- In light of the above we undertook to ask supporters to consider their journey times when next visiting Windsor Park.
In conclusion we would want to record our thanks to the Linfield representative for the frank and positive manner in which he approached the discussion and hope that the measures put in place will ensure that the difficulties experienced by our supporters in August do not occur again.