Northern Ireland fans' anger over Euro 2016 ticket allocation 'shambles'
Published 09/02/2016 | 14:10
There was joy for some but deep anger for many others as Northern Ireland football fans were told if they had secured prized tickets for the European Championships in France.
While some supporters celebrated, others were left fuming after a Euro 2016 loyalty scheme apparently failed to prioritise those who had attended past games.
The Irish Football Association (IFA) had devised a points system with the aim of ensuring Northern Ireland fans who had attended the most qualifying and friendly matches got first preference when it came to tickets.
But fans who has amassed numerous points were scratching their heads on Tuesday after they missed out on tickets, while others with few or no points secured them.
With 50,000 applications for just under 30,000 total seats for Northern Ireland's three group games, there were always going to be many disappointed fans.
But there was a sense of injustice among many who felt years of loyal support had not been rewarded.
The issue appears to focus on Northern Ireland's opening game against Poland in Nice on June 12 - the match with the smallest ticket allocation (6,800).
The problem seems to relate to the price category of tickets fans applied for.
Those with limited or no loyalty points appear to have been able to secure seats in the more expensive areas of the stadium, while supporters with many loyalty points who applied for tickets in the more in-demand cheaper seats have missed out.
The fans took to social media to vent their fury.
Gordon Gough tweeted: "How can a block booker with stacks of points not get tickets for Nice? Sort it out IFA! #Shambles"
Owen Polley described it as a "fiasco".
Paul Arbuthnot asked the IFA: "Is there any appeal process, or are all the tickets gone?"
On Twitter, Robert Millar wrote: "What has happened with this ticket allocation. Total shambles. People with zero points get all tickets !! Real fans get nowt."
In response to the furore, the IFA insisted UEFA held ultimate responsibility.
"UEFA are responsible for managing the ticket application process for EURO 2016," the IFA said.
"The Irish FA spent three months working with fans and supporters' groups to create a priority list based on attendance at Northern Ireland matches over the past two qualifying campaigns. That list was shared with UEFA on 29th January.
"It was our understanding that the priority list would be the basis for all ticket applications for Northern Ireland's group games at EURO 2016. We are currently asking UEFA how the list was applied, particularly in relation to the game against Poland in Nice."