The FAI will get a much-needed financial injection with confirmation of a 51,000 full house for the World Cup qualifier against Portugal at Aviva Stadium on November 11.
Covid-19 had prevented fans attending the stadium for 22 months up until last month’s double-header against Azerbaijan and Serbia. As with last week’s friendly against Qatar, a restriction of 50% capacity was applied.
A Government announcement today of limits on outdoor events being lifted is music to the ears of the FAI. They will be permitted to open the stadium in full, with all 51,000 tickets expected to sell out.
Ireland are already out of the running to clinch a playoff spot but the attraction of the top seeds, with captain Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch, ensures demand will be high. Details of ticket prices are due to be announced by the FAI shortly.
The FAI is carrying debts of €65m and the loss of matchday income – almost €9m in 2019 – added further pressure on their cash flow.
The greenlight for footfall will also allow them to cash in on corporate hospitality packages and help in their bid to find a new sponsor for the men’s national team. The squad have been without a backer since Three ended their commercial deal with the FAI last year.
The news will also be a major income boost for the IRFU, who will host Japan, New Zealand, and Argentina during their autumn international window.
The All Blacks clash, in particular, will see tickets highly in demand three years on from Ireland's historic home win at the Aviva, although New Zealand won their last meeting at the World Cup in 2019.