Sunday 4 December 2016

Tickets change hands for €300 as fans brave hostile rivals

Mark Hilliard in Tallinn

Published 11/11/2011 | 05:00

Irish supporters
throng the
streets of
Estonia's
capital, Tallinn,
ahead of
tonight's big
game, with
many having to
watch the
match on
screens in the
city square
after failing to
secure a ticket
Irish supporters throng the streets of Estonia's capital, Tallinn, ahead of tonight's big game, with many having to watch the match on screens in the city square after failing to secure a ticket
The high ticket price didn't dampen the spirits of fans Shane Monaghan, bottom, and Eoin Byrne from Ballinteer, Dublin
Patrick Doherty, owner of the Molly Malone bar in Tallinn, before the European championship play-off match against Estonia tonight
Karl Coughlan, from Ashtown, Co Dublin, in Tallinn

TRAVELLING Irish fans are being offered tickets for tonight's match against Estonia for up to 20 times their face value.

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And one resident Irishman has received death threats -- and had to go on the local television news to explain himself -- after he was spotted buying 100 tickets last month.

Although the price on the tickets is just €16, newly-arrived fans trying to secure a seat were last night being quoted between €100 and €300.

The FAI received an allocation of just 1,400 tickets for the 10,000-capacity A Le Coq arena.

But members of the Green Army unwilling to shell out over-the-odds prices for the tickets are resigned to watching the game in the city's Freedom Square.

Threats

Dubliner Patrick Doherty (31), owner of the popular Molly Malone Irish pub in the city, said competition for tickets had reached fever pitch -- he even received death threats from angry Estonian supporters after scooping up 100 tickets for prizes in a Halloween promotion.

Eventually forced to hand them back to the Estonian Football Association (EFA) Mr Doherty said he had to go on the six o'clock news on national television to explain the situation.

The incident, three weeks ago, which bar staff later dubbed 'Mollygate', was sparked by fierce reaction on an online football forum after the bar owner was seen buying the tickets.

"I was sitting at home and looking on the internet which said any Irish fan in the Estonian (end) will be raped," he said.

"I told the (EFA) that they never said anything about segregation.

"I had earlier gone down and got 100 tickets to give them out to Irish fans at a Halloween party.

"But we were getting so many bad threats because I was seen buying the tickets. They said they were going to tear down the bar."

In a bid to stave off any potential trouble he agreed with the EFA to hand back 80 of the match tickets.

The 80 tickets were later reissued by the authorities to fans who have attended regular games. The other 20 were handed out by Mr Doherty through a Facebook raffle.

The A Le Coq Arena has a maximum capacity of just 10,300 -- one-fifth the size of Dublin's Aviva.

The FAI were allocated 1,400 tickets, and received 5,000 requests with the spoils eventually ending up in the hands of those with proven track records as travelling supporters.

Some fans arrived with tickets already secured for the Estonian end.

This is despite repeated warnings that check points will be established, with non-Estonian supporters being turned away from the Estonian sections of the ground -- no matter how much they had paid for tickets.

Irish Independent

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