Glentoran supporters' club boycott Cliftonville match after £1 of entry fee to be donated to refugee crisis
Glentoran 1st East Belfast Supporters Club is boycotting this weekend's match against Cliftonville after it was announced that £1 of the £10 entry fee would be donated to the refugee crisis.
The east Belfast football team announced on the club's website that they would be looking at ways for the club and their supporters to help those caught up in the Europe-wide crisis, and said it was supporting the European Club Association's (ECA) '90 minutes for hope' initiative.
Following a suggestion by FC Porto, the ECA is calling for each participant of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League Group Stage to contribute €1 for each ticket sold during their first European home match.
Glentoran FC said it wanted to explore available options, as it was not part of the competitions and that fans would have an "an early opportunity to contribute at our game at Solitude next week as Cliftonville has organised a bucket collection at the match".
It said: "We cannot and will not close our eyes to the dramatic and often tragic scenes currently taking place throughout Europe.
"As Glentoran is not participating in the group stages the board of directors is exploring available options through which the club and its supporters can contribute to help the position of those caught up in the refugee criss.
"We know this is what Glentoran supporters would want. An announcement will be made before our next home league game."
However an announcement by Cliftonville that £1 of the entry fee to the match at their home grounds of Solitude on Saturday would be donated to the cause prompted mixed reaction among Glentoran fans.
It sparked debate among fans who took to the club's Facebook page to say it was not something that all Glentoran supporters wanted.
On Monday night the 1st East Belfast Supporters Club announced they would be boycotting this weekend's match "due to fans not having a say in where the money is being donated or the option to donate".
The fans have now cancelled the bus which was scheduled to take fans to the game.
The 1st East Belfast Supporters Club said: "We at 1st East Belfast GSC have after asking each member came to the conclusion that due to the current situation regarding this Saturdays entry money of £10 to the match against Cliftonville FC at Solitude £1 of this will be donated to the refugee crisis."
"Therefore after Cliftonville made this statement on their website we as a club have pulled out from attending this weekends match and running a bus due to fans not having a say in where the money is being donated or the option to donate ."
In response to the fans' decision Glentoran said support for the initiative is a "matter of personal conscience".
A spokesman said: "Glentoran FC believes that support for and contribution to the "90 Minutes for Hope" initiative is a matter of personal conscience.
"To that end the club proactively issued a statement through the club website on sunday in which it was announced that " the Board of Directors is exploring available options through which the club and its supporters can contribute to help the position of those caught up in the refugee crisis”.
"The Board of Directors will meet before our next home game and at that stage will provide further information. Any initiative undertaken by Glentoran will enable supporters to contribute on a voluntary basis."
The stance taken by the supporter's club has also split opinion among fans - with many taking to Facebook and Twitter to share their views.
Some have supported the decision calling it "noble" with others saying "There is a difference between giving to a charity and being made to".
Another said: "Well done for taking a stance, if people want to give to a charity fair enough. This is a forced collection!!".
While others have been outraged at the stance taken by the supporters club.
One said: "Ashamed to see this from Glentoran fans" another said: "I'm ashamed to see this coming from Glens supporters. Can someone clarify for me, there's a section of our support are against helping out families running from their war torn countries?"
Another said: "Very grim stuff from Glentoran fans".
Announcing participation in the 90 Minutes for Hope Project Cliftonville chairman Gerard Lawlor said there was "absolutely no hesitation in signing up".
Mr Lawlor said: "Cliftonville Football Club therefore has absolutely no hesitation in signing up to the 90 Minutes For Hope project and while we will be donating £1 to the initiative on behalf of every paying adult at next week's game with Glentoran.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that our supporters will make further contributions out of their own pockets as football fans across the continent join forces to take action in support of Europe's biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War."