FAI optimistic fans will flock to Aviva despite talk of distribution problems
THE FAI are expecting a near-capacity crowd for tomorrow's Euro 2012 showdown with Russia, the most significant game to date at the new Aviva Stadium.
Tickets for the clash were still being advertised last night, while the FAI are also set to receive a large portion of the 5,000 seats which were allocated to the visitors.
It's expected that approximately 2,000 Russian supporters will be in attendance at the game, numbers largely drawn from their community in Ireland.
After last week's Magners League clash between Leinster and Munster was sold out, the FAI anticipate a healthy turnout at the 51,000-seater venue for the crucially important qualifier fixture.
In truth, it would be disappointing if they failed to meet that target. Last autumn, crowds in excess of 70,000 were attracted to the key World Cup qualification games with Italy and France.
However, amid criticism of their prices, the FAI have engaged in a number of commercial deals with a view to packing the ground.
They have paired up with two newspapers to offer tickets to families at a special promotional price.
Meanwhile, as revealed by the Irish Independent last month, '3' customers have the opportunity to buy game-by-game tickets for the premium level section at a discounted price.
The new Irish shirt sponsors sent out text messages last week to those in possesion of a '3' phone informing them of the offer.
Certainly, Giovanni Trapattoni's players are anticipating that crowd support will be a factor in this key encounter. "I am sure it will be a sellout," said defender Sean St Ledger.
Unfortunately, the FAI have experienced problems with the distribution of tickets to those supporters who have already paid up.
The Irish Independent has learned that a number of customers who signed up to a season-ticket deal -- covering the first seven games at the renovated Lansdowne Road -- have yet to receive their passes for tomorrow's game.
One individual who contacted this newspaper suffered similar problems ahead of last month's game with Andorra.
The man reported that his friend -- who is in his 80s and based in the north-east -- was forced to make two trips to Dublin on the day of the match to queue for tickets at a collection point after his allocation failed to arrive in the post as had been promised.
FAI CEO John Delaney acknowledged in August that there were teething problems which needed to be overcome, after punters spent a lengthy period of time waiting to gain access to the opening games at the venue.
However, the association can be satisfied that the uptake on their discounted tickets demonstrates that the general public still have an appetite to attend games once the price is deemed fair.