Q Radio Sport
Ballymena Unied have beaten derby rivals Coleraine 1-0 in the opening match of the Danske Bank Premiership.
Defender Kofi Balmer headed the only goal in the first half, but Ballymena were reduced to 10 men before the break when Josh Kelly was sent off.
Coleraine squandered a series of chances in the second half, and the Sky Blues held on for victory.
The main drama was off the pitch when it initially appeared fans would not be admitted.
Fans banned from tonight's Coleraine v Ballymena game after last-minute letter from minister— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 16, 2020
NI Football League statement: pic.twitter.com/Qamn6zyFdi
However, a compromise was reached:
HT: #DanskeBankPrem@ColeraineFC 0 @BallymenaUnited 1— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 16, 2020
Kofi Balmer great header for visitors but they're down to 10 men after red for Josh Kelly
Fans outside eventually admitted on health and safety grounds, after late notice that supporters are now banned from all sport here
Then First Minister Arlene Foster pulled rank on her minister saying fans can still attend big sports events:
Another twist...First Minister enters the fray. Arlene Foster: “The regulations do not ban spectators in the grounds of elite sports. The existing position is maintained permitting a limited number to attend. Preposterous for clubs to be told anything to the contrary.” @DUPleader https://t.co/r6CV4BAZew— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 16, 2020
It was met with approval from other clubs:
⚽️ After @DUPleader announcement & consultations with @carlalockhart - @Glenavon_FC board announce Sat's DBP fixture v @Portadownfc at Mourneview (5.30pm) will go ahead as planned...Admission strictly restricted to Glenavon supporters in possession of a valid ticket for the game: https://t.co/j1t7QsPEKS— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 16, 2020
The Irish FA and NIFL then issued statements on Saturday, confirming fans can attend games.
⚽️ Fans allowed to attend #DanskeBankPrem games #NIFL hits out over confusion -— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 17, 2020
"There have been many frustrations of the situation we were placed in in the last 24 hours...will be requesting a further meeting with government officials as a matter of urgency.”
In full: pic.twitter.com/SaCCyP6e25
And this is how it played out on Saturday:
FT: #DanskeBankPrem@Glenavon_FC 2@Portadownfc 4— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) October 17, 2020
Dream return to top flight. Stephen Murray struck twice v ex club with Lee Bonis & Aaron Burns also on target. Campbell & Singleton for Lurgan Blues.
Welcome back Ports!
📸 PFC pic.twitter.com/0JfW73uQ4K