Croke Park to welcome 40,000 f...


Croke Park to welcome 40,000 fans for All Ireland finals

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The Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers has confirmed an increase in Croke Park's capacity for the All Ireland semi-finals and finals. 

40,000 fans will be allowed to attend this summer's All Ireland finals.

Minister Chambers also announced an increase in attendance for the semi-finals to 24,000. Currently, Croke Park's attendance is capped at 18,000 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It's also been confirmed that 25,000 can attend the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifiers in September against both Azerbaijan and Serbia.

The Minister also said he'd be "targeting increased numbers" into the autumn and winter.

The increase to 24,000 at Croke Park will come into effect as soon as next weekend with the Jones' Road venue to host both All Ireland Hurling semi-finals.

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill was asked earlier this week about a bump in attendances at the Aviva. He replied, "The simple is answer is as big as we possibly can do and the Government allows us.

“We’ve made good progress there and I think the Government is pleased with the way pilot events have been handled.

“They are keen to work with us to maximise the opportunity within the advice we are getting from the medics."

Hill added, "I’m certainly hopeful that we can progress to the point at which we have a really strong crowd for that final game against Portugal in November.”

While no mention of the autumn rugby internationals is made, the news of increased attendances is sure to come as a boon to the IRFU as well.

On Thursday, CEO Philip Browne warned that further cuts would have to be made at the association unless there was a swift and meaningful return of fans to stadiums.

Speaking of growing those newly announced attendance numbers, Minister Chamber said, "What we've learned through the summer is that this is about incremental progress.

"We're now seeing a 50 per cent attendance at Croke Park and the Aviva, for example, in the coming weeks.

"And I'll be targeting increased numbers in September, and in the autumn, so that we build on that through the autumn period.

"But I'm as ambitious as anyone to get as many fans back in our stadia [as soon] as possible. I know it's been a very long period for many people where they haven't been able to attend a live match and see their team.

"So we'll be looking to do that in a safe and planned way, and there's no ceiling on our ambition when it comes to getting fans back at games in a safe way."

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