Cup final at Mourneview Park to be used as 'learning event' for further events

Irish Cup final coming to Mourneview Park?

Mourneview Park, home of Glenavon.

Staff reporter


Staff reporter


The Irish Cup final, which this year is to be held at Mourneview Park , is to be used as part of a study to inform the future safe return of spectators to large scale venues.

The cup final takes place on May 21 with up to 1,000 fans able to sign up to attend.

And up to 500 fans will be able to attend the Lurgan Blues' final league game of the season against Dungannon Swifts, it has been confirmed.

Arrangements for the staging of the match include:

  • Access to the match will be strictly controlled and on a ticket-only basis to enable contact tracing systems to work effectively.
  • 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.
  • Reduced social distancing measures will be in place for the purposes of this event only.
  • No food or beverages will be served at the game.
  • Behaviours of spectators will be monitored.
  • Fans will be invited to provide feedback after the event.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a big win for people of all ages who have missed the shared experience of an outdoor match, concert or show. 

“The staging of this learning event will provide a valuable opportunity to gather learning which will inform our plans for the safer return of all types of large audience-based events.

“This project is all about partnership working, across Departments, agencies and with the football community. We have taken a co-design approach to ensure that the event is designed, run and analysed in a way that will identify and reduce risks for participants.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We are fully committed to bringing back those aspects of life that people have missed so much over the last year. We know that for many families and friends, attending matches or events is an important part of their lives.

“Each step on the pathway to recovery is based on the best available evidence and this event has been carefully designed to contribute to our bank of knowledge on the re-opening of large scale venues.

“I commend all those involved in the project, but most importantly I want to thank the supporters who will sign up to play a key role in ensuring future events can take place as safely as possible.”

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “This is another pivotal moment on the journey back to normality and we are delighted that football can play its part. We have worked closely with our partners in the NI Executive and the Department for Communities and will do likewise with the two clubs who reach the final.

“We understand the significance of this increase in spectators for the final and also the importance of all attendees playing their part by adhering to the guidelines laid out and following the Covid testing requirements. We are confident that this event will help further the case for increasing spectator numbers not just for football but for other sports and events across Northern Ireland, which is something everyone wants.”

From May 24 up to 500 spectators will be permitted to watch sport whether at an underage game or a professional event.

That date will also see the return of unstructured outdoor sport, the removal of the limit of 15 participants in outdoor sport and an increase in the cap of participants across all outdoor sport from 100 to 500 participants.

The move is subject to a review on May 20.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said, “This is a good sign of progress for those who enjoy watching these events. We will also work with our scientific and medical partners to learn more about the safety at these events and later this month aim to run an event with a higher number again of spectators.

“It was also important to recognise the importance of unstructured sport in our day-to-day lives and to permit those activities to open up again, whether that be 5-aside football in the local leisure centre or Park Run in the local park.  Participants must observe the maximum number of 500 people for gatherings when such activities are taking place.

The Minister added: “I must stress that it is important that we see a safe and sensible approach from everyone.  These decisions place enormous responsibility on Governing Bodies, clubs and venue operators as well as on individuals.  Where possible, everyone must observe social distancing and good hygiene practices.” 

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