Giovanni Trappatoni advertising the concrete slabs

Soccer and rugby fans are spending up to €395 on concrete slabs at the new Aviva stadium in Dublin in a manner which suggests that the worst might indeed be over, as finance minister Brian Lenihan promised during his budget speech.

Interest in personalised pavement slabs at the Lansdowne Road ground has intensified in the run-up to Christmas. "They have been on sale for the past six months but it's been in the last month or so that they have really taken off," said an FAI spokesman.

"You can put more or less whatever you want on them; a lot of people are going for family names and clubs." Suggested messages on the FAI's website include: "Go Ireland" and "Happy Birthday, Granddad".

Fans' names and inscriptions will be scattered across the Aviva Stadium Walk, mixed in with those of former captains and current players from the worlds of rugby and football.

The slabs start out at €75 for two lines of 16 characters and go up to €395 for an inscription underneath a crest.

Each stone is carved from Bethel White granite, engraved and hand-painted to last around 10 years.