BALLYMENA United are set to play a friendly in Holland early in the new year, Times Sport can reveal.
The Sky Blues have been invited to face top Dutch amateur side RKSV Leonidas in Rotterdam on Saturday, January 5.
The all-expenses-paid invitation has been made via local man David Brown, proprietor of indoor sporting facility The Sports Hut outside Cullybackey, whose brother used to play for the club and who still has connections there.
A panel of 26 players and staff will make the trip – which is being co-ordinated for the club by performance analyst Clifford Adams - on the Saturday with the match being played at teatime and the party returning on the Sunday.
As a result, United’s Danske Bank Premiership home match with Ballinamallard, scheduled for that date, will be played on Friday, January 4 (7.45pm).
Cliftonville accepted a similar invitation from Leonidas at the same time – the winter break in Holland – last season, drawing 2-2.
While it’s an attractive proposition, that game will be far down United boss Glenn Ferguson’s list of immediate priorities, with the manager admitting he’s fast running out of patience after a sequence of five straight league defeats which have dragged United back into the bottom half of the Premiership.
The January transfer window will offer Ferguson the chance to bolster his injury-ravaged squad and the manager said: “The players now know that we are proactively looking (for players).
“It’s not as easy as that but we are definitely looking to add and if it means subtracting to be able to do that, it will be done.
“We’ve had three games since the final and haven’t played well in any of them so if changes have to be made, they’ll be made,” added Ferguson, who hopes that United can turn around their recent poor form in Saturday’s trip to Glentoran (3pm) - a ground where Ballymena have won six of their last seven games against the Glens.
Seven Towers Supporters’ Club transport for Saturday’s match leaves Henry Street car park at 1.45pm
Meanwhile, tickets are still on sale for the Boxing Day home game against Coleraine at the following outlets:
Stirling Trophies (9am to 5:30 pm); Shop Mobility (Tower Centre, 10am to 4pm); Showgrounds Reception (Tuesday 18th & Thursday 20th, 7pm to 9pm); The Kiosk, Ballymena bus station - Mon-Fri: 5am to 7pm, Sat: 5am to 6pm, Sun: 5am to 1pm.
Confirmation has been received that tickets will be available at Ballymena Showgrounds up until 12.30pm on the day of the match.
Details of points of sale at Ballymena Showgrounds will be made available as soon as possible. The sale of tickets will begin at 11am and end at 12.30pm on the day. It has also been confirmed that entrance to the Ballymena Showgrounds complex for Ballymena United suporters who have purchased/obtained a ticket will be allowed through the Ecos Centre.
United season ticket holders are reminded that they must collect a match ticket from one of the above outlets as they will not be able to use their season ticket card on matchday.
* United defender Michael Ruddy, currently recovering from a broken foot, has signed a one-year extension to his contract.