THE FAI has reacted to disappointing attendances for Ireland matches at the rebuilt Lansdowne Road by announcing another wave of price cuts in an attempt to bring back supporters.
Crowds have steadily dropped since the opening of the renovated venue last August, with just over 20,000 people attending the recent friendly match with Uruguay.
Chief executive John Delaney had previously expressed confidence that the biggest problem for supporters would be the lack of tickets available for international matches.
Alas, the opposite has proven to be the case, with Mr Delaney yesterday announcing new 'season ticket' packages with a view to filling the blocks of empty seats that have been visible over the past eight months.
Mr Delaney was speaking in Ennis at the launch of the 2011 FAI AGM, which will be accompanied by a week of activities in Clare in the second week of July.
Starting from August, fans will have the opportunity to buy tickets for seven games in 2011/2012 at total prices ranging from €189 for the cheapest seats to €270 for the better views in the general admission section.
Adults availing of that deal can bring one under-16 at €55 in category B or €60 in category A.
Overall, it represents a saving in the region of 13pc on the existing season ticket deal, which 5,000 supporters have signed up for.
The games that will be included in the package are the remaining home European Championship matches with Slovakia and Armenia, three friendly matches, the FAI Cup final and, significantly, a play-off game if Ireland finish second in their qualifying group.
In the event that Ireland miss out on a play-off, then another friendly will be pencilled in, with a showdown with England scheduled for November or February.
The FAI has come in for strong criticism over its pricing of games, but it has attributed this price reduction to UEFA's decision to centralise TV rights money among European nations from 2014 onwards.
Mr Delaney estimates that the initiative will earn the association €40m over four years -- €20m more than it would have budgeted for under the old arrangement.
However, the FAI still has a major commitment to coping with the cost of significant borrowings to fund the building of the Aviva Stadium.
The investment was supposed to be covered by the sale of 10-year Vantage Club premium tickets for the venue, but sales of the best seats in the house fell well short of expectations due to exorbitant prices ranging from €1,200 to €3,200 per year.
An Irish Independent investigation last August revealed the FAI had sold less than a third of the 10,000 seats available, with a number of seats in that section taken up by existing ticket holders who had paid a quarter of the price in advance.
Mr Delaney has confirmed that no price reductions will be offered to those Vantage Club holders who are locked into existing contracts. Instead, they have been given the option to buy extra tickets for the section at prices ranging from €300-€600 for the seven games.
"The ones they bought are contractually there and will be staying that way, but they have this ability to buy more at a very reduced price," said Mr Delaney.
"We give them a reward and say thank you very much; this is a way we can help you for being so good to us at a time when we needed you."
FAI IN NO RUSH TO DECIDE TRAP'S FUTURE: SPORT