Tickets thin on the ground in tiny Andorra
THEY are the lucky ones. Only a few hundred Irish fans will cheer on our boys in green from the stadium for the crucial Euro 2012 qualifying match against Andorra tonight.
Tickets for the game have been difficult to source because of the size of the principality's national stadium.
Only 200 tickets were allocated for Irish fans at the Estadi Comunal d'Andorra la Vella. The stadium has a capacity of 850. Fans had hoped that the match would be held in Barcelona's training ground -- but an intervention by the Russian FA made certain that didn't happen.
Alan Hunter, general secretary of the Ireland Football Supporters Association, said that up to 600 people had travelled for the game. "The game is on a Friday, so it's not ideal and with the cutbacks people struggled to get over," he said.
"But there's a lot of support for Ireland all around Europe with people having emigrated, so there'll be a lot more people there.
"Andorra is a fantastic country and the atmosphere for supporters over there is great.
"With that match and Armenia on Tuesday, I don't think we're expecting any upsets and we should qualify," he added.
FAI spokesman Peter Sherrard said that the organisation had brought only a small delegation to keep tickets for the fans. "Chief executive John Delaney gave up his ticket and will be watching the match, probably somewhere in Barcelona," he said.
Many fans hit the Ramblas in Barcelona yesterday trying to obtain tickets for the match from Andorrans, who have nothing left to play for in the competition's Group B.
Three Irish bars in Barcelona with a total capacity of 1,000 between them -- The George Payne, Dunne's and Flaherty's -- have agreed to show the match on RTE to accommodate Irish fans.