Payments group Sumup blamed as football fans party for free at Aviva Stadium

Stadium’s catering partner Levy UK & Ireland gave out free food and drink as credit card reader glitch prevented payments

American football fans were treated to free food and drinks at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday after a technological fault meant payments could not be processed.

The Northwestern Wildcats beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 31-28 following an exciting finish to the Aer Lingus College Football Classic.

And the dramatic finale was matched off the field too when fans were notified in the first half that the credit card machines were down because the wifi connection was out at the Aviva, which meant they could eat and drink all they wanted for free.

Following the match, the Aviva Stadium’s catering partner, Levy UK & Ireland, issued a statement blaming the problem on its payment provider, Sumup.


“We were unable to process card transactions for two hours at the Aviva Stadium during the Northwestern Wildcats v Nebraska College football match,” it said.

“Reports that this issue was because of Aviva Stadium technical issues are inaccurate, the issue was solely down to the external network system which the payment provider operates on to process transactions. This was not a technical issue isolated to Aviva Stadium or indeed Ireland.”

The company said the decision to serve food and drinks for free was taken to ensure the customer experience was not negatively impacted.

“Our team at Aviva Stadium were extremely quick to ensure that the fan experience was upheld and food and beverage kiosks were kept open serving customers for the entirety of this period,” it said.

“Payment systems resumed at 7.30pm and fans continued to enjoy the college football event.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this caused customers and would like to thank our employees at Aviva Stadium for the spirit they showed in keeping everything going.”

A spokesman for the Levy UK & Ireland said the decision to give food and drinks away for free was a “joint decision” taken with Aviva Stadium management.

“We were able to take payments for a period of time before kick-off and after half-time, when the issue was resolved, but we gave away approximately 75 per cent of the food and drink provisions we allocate for a game of this size,” he said.

The spokesman said the company was “already in contact with the payment provider Sumup to start the process of reclaiming these costs”.

Sumup has been contacted for comment.

Nebraska were favourites in Dublin and after early touchdowns in the first and second quarters they led 14-3. The Wildcats then scored their first touchdown and added another just before half time to take the lead at the break. Nebraska fought back however, regained the ascendancy and led 28-17 in the third quarter before the game came to life. The Wildcats scored a touchdown midway through that quarter before missing a field goal. Then three minutes into the fourth quarter they took the lead again when an interception led to a decisive fourth touchdown. Their defence held firm as they held out for a three point win.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter