John Prenty: Capacity fears led to Croke Park switch

The GAA’s Competitions Control Committee (CCC) are expecting an attendance of “at least 15,000 people” to attend Saturday evening’s All-Ireland SFC Qualifier between Mayo and Kildare, and that was the primary reason behind the decision to move the game from St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, to Croke Park.

Connacht GAA Council secretary, John Prenty, who is a member of the CCC, confirmed last night that the controversial decision to move the Round 3 qualifier from Newbridge to Croke Park was taken due as a result of insufficient capacity at St Conleth’s Park under health and safety restrictions.

“The safe capacity for St Conleth’s Park is just over 9,000 according to the Slattery Report,” explained Prenty. “So, when a health and safety report dictates that the capacity cannot exceed that figure, and the expected attendance for Mayo against Kildare is at least 15,000, obviously those two figures are not compatible.

Mayo brought approximately 10,000 supporters to Thurles for their game with Tipperary last weekend and there was a total crowd of 14,557 at the Mayo versus Kildare All-Ireland SFC qualifier in Castlebar in 2016.

“Newbridge is not in a position to cater for the expected attendance to watch Kildare play Mayo next weekend, under the health and safety report figures that we are working off.

“There are almost 4,500 season ticket holders in Mayo alone, so if Kildare GAA and Mayo GAA were to get 50% of the tickets for a game in Newbridge, then anybody who isn’t a season ticket holder in Mayo wouldn’t be able to get a ticket and Kildare GAA wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand for tickets, either.

“With Cavan not in a position to host their qualifier against Tyrone at Kingspan Breffni Park, Croke Park was the obvious venue to host a double-header involving Cavan v Tyrone and Mayo v Kildare,” he added.

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