By Denis J. Croke
WHILE clubs across the county will be celebrating the imminent return of competitive football and hurling, those same clubs face a major headache in the weeks ahead.
Many supporters, who have been starved of live action for the past four months, will still not get to see games due to the conditions attached to the return to play protocols.
With attendance at games now restricted to 200 which includes players and officials, clubs will now have just 50 tickets available to distribute among club supporters. This may come as a disappointment to supporters who would have initially understood that the 200 figure applied to those attending the game.
However, the 200 attendees includes players, management, referees, stewards, county board officials and media leaving only 100 tickets remaining for supporters.
With all games now being deemed all ticket matches supporters will have to purchase their tickets prior to match day as no tickets will be sold at the gate.
It will be up to each club as to how they distribute their tickets, which must be paid for by the clubs on collection. And this is where the problems really arise for clubs, just how do they decide who should get the tickets.
One regular O’Moore Park attendee I spoke with over the weekend was of the opinion that it would have been better to play the games behind closed doors.
“This is going to lead to woeful rows,” he said. “How can a club decide who should get tickets and who shouldn’t.”
Other changes see games that had been fixed as double headers having had their times altered slightly so that they can now be run as two single fixtures.
Other conditions being applied include senior citizens passes not being valid and season ticket holders are advised to make contact with Laois GAA.
Other recommendations include not attending games if you are showing any symptoms; the promotion of wearing masks for all those over 13, the bringing your own sanitiser and to keep their own record of contacts at a match.
An official statement from Laois GAA said:
“While the current restrictions on 200 capacity on attendances continue, Laois GAA Championship Games will now be all Ticket Games and will unfortunately be limited to 50 tickets per Club, outside of player / mentor / club officer allocation, which will be distributed and sold at discretion of Club.
“Laois GAA wish to advise that Tickets for Club Championship games will not be on sale to general public and that Laois GAA Senior Citizen Passes will not be valid for entry to Club Championship games during the present restrictions. Laois GAA Season Ticket Holders 2020 (i.e. purchased direct from Laois GAA Office) are advised to contact Laois GAA Office.
“Laois GAA acknowledge the challenge and inconvenience around the limitations on spectators attending our games at the current time. However, we call on all of our units to help us adhere to these restrictions to ensure that public health is not jeopardised at this time and to avoid undermining our efforts to lobby to have these limits raised in the weeks ahead.
“Laois GAA is in the process of finalising broadcast and streaming of club games until attendance figures are reviewed.
“Thank you for your ongoing support and co-operation
“Spectators should be aware that all the risks posed from Covid-19 cannot be eliminated, including attending GAA games but that essential control measures have been put in place to reduce risks for members.”
♦Spectators must not attend games if they display any symptoms of Covid-19 and instead should phone their GP and follow public health advice.
♦Individuals that are considered high risk or are in close contact with others who are considered high risk should not attend games.
♦Individuals must be informed that much of the responsibility for managing Covid-19 risk remains with themselves particularly in relation to social distancing, wearing of face coverings and sanitation.
♦All spectators should be encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser.
♦The use of face coverings is strongly advised for all patrons over the age of 13
♦Spectators must not enter the field of play at any time including pre-match, at half-time and other intervals and after the final whistle or at end-of-match presentations.
♦Spectators should be advised to keep their own record of contacts at a match for potential tracing purposes
♦All spectators are encouraged to download the HSE tracing app.