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Game changer: Teen football fan fears for his Christmas trip after company's collapse

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Let down: Dubliner Sean Ralph with his parents and sister Katie. They are unsure what will happen with their trip. Photo: Arthur Carron

Let down: Dubliner Sean Ralph with his parents and sister Katie. They are unsure what will happen with their trip. Photo: Arthur Carron

Let down: Dubliner Sean Ralph with his parents and sister Katie. They are unsure what will happen with their trip. Photo: Arthur Carron

A teenage football fan has been left heartbroken after his dream trip to see Manchester United was caught up in the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Sean Ralph (19), from Swords, Dublin, had planned to stay at the Innside Hotel before heading to see Manchester United play Newcastle United on St Stephen's Day.

He organised the trip, funded by his parents as part of his Christmas present this year, for himself, his mother Claire, father Tim and sister Katie. He booked the hotel room and tickets for the match for himself and Claire through Thomas Cook.

The booking came a year after the family's plans to visit for Sean's 18th birthday fell through because he was too busy with school. However, when the 178-year-old company announced it was ceasing trading with immediate effect yesterday, he was left in the lurch.

"He's devastated to say the least," mum Claire told the Irish Independent. "It's his first week in college and it's not easy. He's been looking forward to this for so long.

"It was meant to happen last year as an 18th birthday present but we didn't get around to it."

Sean, who has been a Man United supporter for many years, said: "It is what it is. I'm not happy, obviously.

"When it was my 18th birthday I was just too busy with school.

"The four of us are going but it's just me and my mam who were going to be going to the match. Their hotel is fine, the flights are fine. It's just the two match tickets and the hotel for the two of us. We'll just have to wait and see really at this stage."

He said the trip was worth around €500. Thomas Cook ceased trading after failing to come up with €225m needed to stay afloat.

A statement released by Manchester United said they "started to work through contingency plans" when they first heard of their travel partner's collapse.

"As soon as we were aware of their potential insolvency, we started to work through contingency plans and we will endeavour to contact affected Manchester United fans who had booked direct via Thomas Cook."

Irish Independent