COLERAINE fans had cause for further celebration at the weekend after the club secured an extra 545 seats for the IRN-BRU League Cup final at the end of the month.
The Bannsiders sold out their initial 1750 ticket allocation for the January 28 showpiece with Crusaders in a matter of days following their release a week ago.
Hundreds of supporters looked set to miss out on the glamour clash because of crowd restrictions at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
But following extensive consultation between Coleraine, Ballymena United and Ballymena Borough Council, an additional 545 seats are to be provided in the form of temporary seating, which will be situated behind the goal at the Warden Street end.
And the resolution was aided by a healthy cash injection from Coleraine’s chief sponsors, TBF Thompson and McKendry Fabrications.
It means the attendance for the final will be over 3,500, with two-thirds of them supporting Oran Kearney’s men.
Irish FA Premiership chairman Hugh Wade said it will be a “special atmosphere” when Coleraine and Crusaders meet.
“A big thank-you has to go to TBF Thompson and its managing director Andy Magowan and Colin McKendry of McKendry Fabrication – this gesture will give fans the chance to attend the final,” Wade said.
“It is a massive boost and now we can look forward to a great final on January 28.
“We had a lot of fans who were without a ticket, and naturally they want to be at this special occasion. Thankfully now they can.”
However such is the demand for tickets the waiting list has been closed due to over subscription. The Coleraine FC board met on Monday to discuss the allocation of tickets as Dessie Brown, the club’s General Manager explained.
“Demand has once again exceeded the numbers of tickets available,” Dessie told Times Sport. “As a result, although all fans on the waiting list will receive tickets, this may not equate to their full ticketing requirement which they had previously asked for.
“The club would now request that all fans on the ticketing waiting list make arrangements to pick up their tickets from the Coleraine FC Social Club, specifically on either Friday 20 January (4pm – 8pm) or Saturday 21 January (12pm – 3pm).”
The club would like to inform fans on the waiting list that any tickets which have not been collected by 3pm on Saturday will be redistributed.
Dessie added: “A lot of hard work has been put into making this possible, from Ballymena Council, the PSNI, Sport NI, the IFA and the two clubs. TBF Thompson and McKendry’s deserve a lot of praise though for their involvement and sponsorship which has made this possible.”
Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney also praised the decision. “Games like this come around every few year, hopefully more often in the coming years, and they are the ones all fans want to be at,” he said.
“I’m just delighted that we’ve got the additional seating. A big thank-you must go to our sponsors TBF Thompson and McKendry Fabrications who helped make it possible.
“Things are goig well and there is a real buzz about the place. Even driving in today and seeing all the flags up on the Lodge Road and Ballycastle Road is brilliant.
“We have very passionate fans who are baying for success and hopefully we can deliver.”
Kearney is hopeful full back Johnny Black will be fit enough to play in the showpiece final.
“He is making progress and is able to jog now,” revealed Kearney. “We’d be more worried if he wasn’t making any progress, I just don’t want to throw him back into training at this stage.
“I want to give him every opportunity to make the final. Hopefully he’ll play a part against Glenavon and then he’ll have another seven days before the final.”
The club meanwhile are hosting a corporate lunch before the home game with Donegal Celtic on February 18th.
Tables (seating eight) can be booked corporately (£280 +VAT) or individually (£35) by contacting Ivan Kyle (07789297694) or CFC General Manager Dessie Brown (028 70353655).