ROY Keane’s unveiling as Ipswich Town manager has triggered massive interest among tour operators and sports stores looking to capitalise on the move.
When Keane became Sunderland manager in August 2006, Irish fans moved quickly to scoop up merchandise and book trips to the watch the team play.
Paul Dawson of Dawson Travel in Cork said the company plans to approach Ipswich in the summer to arrange package deals for Cork fans.
“We feel there will be a lot of Roy Keane fans looking to travel over and we expect tickets won’t be too hard to come by. There’ll be a bit of interest in it alright,” he said.
Mr Dawson said there was a “huge boom” in interest from people looking to travel to Sunderland when Keane moved there. “A few of my friends have already said that they are now Ipswich fans,” he said.
Dan Ryan, trading director with Lifestyle Sports, said there will certainly be more Ipswich merchandise on its Irish shelves when the new season kicks off.
“We would expect to see an upsurge of interest in Ipswich products, similar to that which we experienced with Sunderland products when Roy was manager.
“As Roy has a particular Cork following, we would expect to stock Ipswich products in our Cork stores.
“Some football supporters may take the view of supporting Ipswich in the Championship in addition to their favourite Premiership team,” he said.
Marketing manager with Champion Sports, Andrew Macken, said in general there’s not a huge demand for Championship team kits in Ireland but added that if Ipswich Town can gain promotion to the Premier League stocking the Ipswich kit is something the company would consider.
But it seems not everyone will benefit from the move and, according to Ryanair, Keane will lose out this time around because of airport taxes in Ireland and Britain.
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “Roy’s appointment at Ipswich comes at a very different time to his appointment at Sunderland. Ryanair introduced extra flights to allow Irish fans follow Roy during his time at Sunderland, but now, faced with a €e10 tax to leave Ireland and £11 tax to leave the UK we do not expect an increase in demand as a result of Roy’s adventures at Ipswich.
“The reality is that travel to matches in the UK just got e€25 more expensive due to needless and damaging tourist taxes. Roy is the latest to lose out as a result of Government stupidity.”
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