By Conor Hawkins
Recently qualifying for the European Championships is quite the motivational factor for Irish soccer fans to attend Ireland’s friendlies in the coming week, but now there is an added bonus for fans.
Ireland’s first game of the international break is against Switzerland, on Good Friday night in the Aviva Stadium. This means that pubs will be closed as the sale of alcohol is illegal, something that might have deterred fans from going to the game and making a night out of it.
However, the Aviva Stadium is one of a small number of designated National Sporting Arenas that are exempt from the usual liquor laws, meaning it can serve alcohol on Good Friday.
Oftentimes Ireland friendlies come with lots of empty seats, but this cunning move by the FAI mixed with a summer of tournament football is sure to help get fans in through the turnstiles to support the boys in green.
Publicans in Dublin may seek to replicate what publicans in Limerick done in 2010 before a Munster game in Thomond Park. They went to court to try and get an exemption from the law citing the game as a ‘special event’ and were allowed to sell drinks between the hours of 6pm and 11.30pm.
The Licensed Vitner’s Association has called on the Good Friday ban to be lifted. “Every Good Friday we have tens of thousands of tourists wandering around Dublin asking why they can’t go into a pub for a drink,” said LVA chief executive Donall O’Keefe.
Mr O’Keeffe estimates the industry suffers a loss in turnover of between €40 to €50 million through closing on Good Friday, with €6 million in lost taxes to the exchequer.