Shamrock Rovers seek UEFA permission to add more seats
SHAMROCK ROVERS will appeal to UEFA for permission to install extra seats for the visit of Juventus to Tallaght next Thursday night.
The Hoops were able to increase their capacity by 4,000 to 10,000 for last summer's pre-season friendly against Real Madrid, but the European governing body's rules do not permit temporary seating for Europa or Champions League matches.
However, there have been exceptions to this rule and although they received an initial 'no' in preliminary discussions, Rovers hope to add to the significant financial boost that the plum draw will give them.
The Tallaght outfit stand to make between ¿500,000 and ¿700,000 from their progress against Israeli side Bnei Yehuda with the final figure dependant on the negotiation of television rights.
Tommy Stewart's winner guarantees Rovers ¿90,000 in prize money from UEFA just for reaching the third qualifying round of the competition.
Even with the reduced capacity of 6,000, a packed Tallaght will guarantee ¿150,000 and there is the prospect of pre-match functions and speciality merchandise to add to the pot.
The club will deal with Italian TV companies through an agent and it is expected that the most successful club in Italian football are guaranteed to be shown on domestic television.
Rovers will be hoping for a bidding war between Italian stations and being drawn at home first will boost the Dubliners' negotiating position.
With their game against UCD on Monday postponed to let them prepare, the scene is set for a bumper week for Rovers in just their second year at their new home.
Even if there is no extra seating, one man who will be in attendance is Giovanni Trapattoni.
In Dublin to name his squad for Ireland's upcoming game with Argentina, the Ireland boss and Juventus legend said Rovers are in for a tough tie.
"Man for man Juventus have better quality players," he said. "But Shamrock Rovers, they are well organised and will be motivated as they are in the middle of their season. That will count for a lot in the game and I am sure Juventus will not underestimate them.
"It will be a tough game for Shamrock Rovers as Juventus have excellent players throughout their team.
"Alessandro Del Piero can change a game in a split second with a piece of skill. But if Rovers are not overawed by the challenge, then they have a chance."
Club chairman Jonathan Roche said the club haven't put a figure on what they expect to earn from the tie.
"We just have to wait and see," he said. "This is a bonus to us, we're just concentrating on having Juventus in Tallaght next week. We haven't budgeted for anything so we're in the next round, which is a guaranteed payment and whatever else comes is brilliant.
"Getting the extra seats is not a big deal for us, if it's a no, it's a no. We're only worried as a club about out fans, season ticket holders and the people who come see us every week.
"Anything else is a bonus, if we had 15,000 people there or if the Aviva was available and we got 30,000 at it -- how many of those people would go see us against Sporting Fingal the following week?"
"It's great, but it's kind of a side issue. If we can get a few more people in, then brilliant. If we don't, we don't."
Rovers have come a long way in a few short years and Roche explained what it meant to the club's supporters.
"It means everything to everybody," he said. "To the fans, the members, the people of Tallaght and the local council -- we waited a long time for that stadium and Madrid were here last year and now Rovers are bringing Juventus.
"I'm wearing a top at the moment that we had in the First Division -- it's five years old. From being relegated to this, it's not a fluke. It's through hard work from everybody.
"It's come off, we got a bit lucky with the draw, but Bnei Yehuda was a tough game and the team played well.
"We prepared well, we came on Monday and we did well. The club deserves it."
Manager Michael O'Neill echoed his chairman's sentiments and said the drive of the supporters is spurring him and his players towards greater success.
"That's the big thing," O'Neill said. "This club, it stayed alive because of people's love for the club. They refused, under any circumstances, to let the club die.
"That's why nights like this are fantastic for those people -- if we can put a trophy on the table it would be fantastic.
"When you come to Rovers you can sense what it means to the club, what it means to bring success to the club and the players are desperate for that. I'm desperate for it and I think we're going the right way about it."