Coronavirus rules: Coleraine explain why fans attended match after rules said not to

Friday night's match was streamed live on the BBC Sport NI website
Friday night’s match was streamed live on the BBC Sport NI website

Supporters attended the opening match of the Irish Premiership season, just over an hour after it was announced they were not permitted to do so.

Fans had already arrived at Ballycastle Road for the Coleraine-Ballymena United game when the announcement was made by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Bannsiders chairman Colin McKendry said there were also fans waiting outside and that the club decided it was safer to let them enter the ground.

“I took advice from police,” he said.

Coleraine had expected a limited number of supporters to be allowed to attend the game and McKendry said that a number of fans were already in the ground by the time he arrived.

He said the club then had to decide what to do about the fans in the stadium and those who were waiting on the street at the gate to come in.

“We had been awaiting guidance and the announcement was made around 19:00 that there was to be no fans in the ground,” added McKendry.

“Our board had to make a decision based on a public order offence that was being created outside our ground. We had people who were crowding outside the ground.

“We had to open the gates as people were starting to get irate, so we felt they would be safer inside our ground than outside. Therefore, we opened the gates as we feared somebody was going to get hurt outside.

“The advice we received was that it was over to the club to make the decision, but we had no other decision to make if we were to prevent people getting hurt.

“It was not ideal. We made a conscious decision and I don’t know what will come of it. We felt people were safer inside the ground than outside.”

BBC News