Huge clamour for Ireland Euro tickets

With the Euro 2016 tournament being played a mere hop, skip and jump away from Ireland, there’s going to be tens of thousands of Irish supporters who will be making the trip across the channel to sample the sights and sounds of a French tournament.

Only a lucky few will be able to say ‘I was there’ by being able to get their hands on the precious few tickets that UEFA have made available for fans to go to the games against Sweden, Belgium and Italy.

Those Ireland fans who applied for tickets for these games prior to the draw being made, are very lucky indeed that they managed to drop on these games, unless they just really fancied a Saturday afternoon game in Bordeaux for arguments sake – luckily enough for them it’s going to be Ireland versus Belgium.

There was also a portal open for fans of national associations to apply for tickets directly for Ireland games. Be it for individual games, or the ‘follow my team’ option where, should Ireland advance past the group stages, they’ll be guaranteed tickets for any subsequent games.

Interestingly, most of these were for the second round, reducing down over the quarter and semi-finals, with a hardly 1500 or so looking to fly the flag if Ireland get to the final. They’re evidently an optimistic bunch so fair play to them.

After the portal closed, UEFA announced that they’d received over 275,000 applications for tickets from Ireland fans for their three group games in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille.

To put that into perspective, the FAI have only been awarded a total of 32,500 tickets for all three of the games, which goes to show just how over-subscribed the games were.

The original allocation was only 26,000, but after UEFA revealed that the Republic of Ireland were among the top five countries in terms of volume of demand for tickets alongside Poland, France, Austria and Switzerland and that the game against Sweden is in the top three in terms of applications alongside the clash of German and Poland and Portugal and Austria, this gave the FAI some bargaining chips in order to negotiate a slightly increased allocation.

Eyebrows have rightly been raised at the allocations, considering the respective capacities of all the grounds which Ireland are due to play at, however, with the public ballot, sponsorship and corporate requirements, as well as tickets being distributed to the ‘UEFA family’ one shouldn’t be surprised at a somewhat paltry allocation.

Supply was never going to meet demand. But, it’s always interesting how industrious Ireland fans can be in securing tickets for games, so, you shouldn’t be surprised if there are more in the grounds than the official ticketing quantities.

Republic of Ireland v Sweden – 16,087 (Paris; Stade de France capacity: 81,340)
Belgium v Republic of Ireland – 7,095 (Bordeaux; Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, capacity: 42,115)
Italy v Republic of Ireland – 9,320 (Lille; Stade Pierre-Mauroy, capacity: 50,186)

For each participating National Association at EURO 2016, a total of 2,000 tickets have been awarded by UEFA. The FAI intends to distribute these tickets, once the ticketing process is complete, to unsuccessful applicants with a proven match attendance track record, and to the ‘Football Family’.

Supporters on many Ireland internet football forums have been speculating as to what their chances would be of securing a much coveted ticket for any of these games. The FAI are looking to reward those loyal fans who go to both home games, but also those who have travelled to the away qualifiers during the campaign.

The close proximity of the tournament has definitely fuelled demand as anecdotal stories from these forums regarding the Euro 2012 Championship in Poland and Ukraine, seemed that those who wanted tickets for those games, were able to get their hands on them. It’s doubtful that there’ll be such a surplus of tickets this time round.

There was also a moment of panic for Ireland fans, who asked the FAI to seek clarity on their behalf as to whether UEFA would only accept credit cards as a payment method. Many fans had used debit cards instead and were worried that their application would have been rejected. But their worried were healed when it was announced that debit cards were fine to use (as long as you had some money in your account to pay for it!).

FAI CEO John Delaney said today: “I am very happy to say that following meetings in Nyon, Switzerland. UEFA have awarded Republic of Ireland fans with 6,502 more tickets. These tickets will go some way to satisfying the huge demand for Ireland matches at EURO 2016. I am also delighted that UEFA has ceded to our requests to solve this potential difficulty regarding payment methods for many Irish fans.”

UEFA will contact each applicant to inform them of the timeline expected for payments to be taken, while all applicants will be informed of their final status by February 29 at the latest.

On the pitch at the Euros. the minds of the players will be solely on the job of trying to advance from their group after the FAI announced that they reached an agreement with the senior team regarding a bonus package for players for qualifying for the tournament.

The deal was agreed following negotiations between the FAI and the players’ representative, negotiating bonus payments for players who helped Ireland qualify for the tournament, as well as agreeing a payment structure for any further bonuses based on performances at the Championships this summer.

John Delaney, FAI Chief Executive welcomed the swiftness at which the deal was agreed and how everyone can now focus fully on the tournament.

He said: “I want to thank Robbie Keane and John O’Shea, as captain and vice captain, who acted on behalf of the players, and to all of the players themselves for bringing this matter to a successful and speedy conclusion, and for their professionalism throughout this short process. We can all now look forward to EURO 2016 together as Ireland get set for what will be a great occasion for the team and for our millions of supporters around the world.”

Ireland captain, Robbie Keane, also thanked the FAI for bringing the matter to a successful outcome, saying: “I would like to thank the Football Association of Ireland and John Delaney on behalf of all of the players. We are pleased to have finalised this agreement quickly and cordially with the FAI through our representative, Ciaran Medlar.

“The players are all very focused on preparing the tournament. We are delighted to have reached the EURO 2016 finals and really looking forward to an exciting group. It will be a tremendous honour to represent the country in France.”

Ireland will next play in two friendly games at the Aviva Stadium against Switzerland (Friday, March 25) and Slovakia (Tuesday, March 29) where Martin O’Neill will begin honing his preparations for the tournament in these games.