Fans counting cost as offer to host Brazil clash rejected
THE GAA were prepared to do a special deal to host the Republic of Ireland's international friendly with Brazil in Croke Park in March but it looks as if the offer will be spurned in favour of the Emirates Stadium in London.
Arsenal's ground has emerged as favourite to stage the game, leaving Irish supporters disappointed at missing the glamour occasion. Alternatively, they face a costly trip to London for a game which could be played in Dublin.
Renting Croke Park for a major rugby or soccer international costs around €1.5m but the Irish Independent understands that the GAA were prepared to do a special deal for the Brazilian game.
However, it now looks certain that Croke Park will not be used which will come as a major disappointment, not only to Irish supporters but also to the Dublin business community as international matches generate huge revenue in the vicinity of the host stadium.
Coming in the midst of a deep recession, it is a major setback for businesses. Meanwhile, supporters will also be wondering why they have to travel overseas for a game while Croke Park lies idle.
As one of the glamour sides in world soccer, Brazil would be a major draw and while Ireland have not qualified for the World Cup finals, it would still be a major surprise if the game didn't draw 70,000 spectators to Croke Park.
The heart-breaking manner of Ireland's exit from the World Cup qualifiers would probably add to the attendance as fans would be anxious to turn out to support the team that came so close to booking a place in South Africa.
However, it now appears they will have to travel to England if they want to attend the game.