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Fans paying more to watch Andorran part-timers than for entire away campaign

IRISH fans will spend as much on attending tonight's game against lowly Andorra as they did on every away game in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Cash-strapped fans will fork out between €50 and €110 to watch Ireland playing a team ranked 165 places below us in the world rankings.

The total price for tickets to the five away games in the last World Cup campaign came to €78 including a chance to see world champions Italy for €10.

For five times the price of seeing Pirlo, Del Piero and Cannavaro in action, Ireland's fans attending the Aviva tonight will see Andorra's star player, who also works as a full-time electrician.

The Andorrans' only full-time professional player, Marc Bernaus, earns €200,000 a year -- 17 times less than Irish captain Robbie Keane.



Disgruntled

The ticket price for last week's opening game against Armenia was dropped to €4 due to a lack of demand.

Phelim Warren (44), a staunch Irish supporter from Tallaght, and member of passionate supporters group You Boys In Green, has said fans are getting disgruntled.

"I think that the issue of ticket pricing has been a serious bone of contention since the FAI made the move to Croke Park," he said.

"There were added costs that had to be paid for when we were using Croke Park because we had to cover the cost of renting the stadium. The hardcore fans will continue to fork out the money for tickets because they would probably go regardless of the price.

"I've been going to see Ireland for the past 30 years and thankfully I'm lucky enough to be in secure employment -- but for that I would probably be unable to attend. The difference in price between away game tickets and tickets at the Aviva is vast and probably unfair.

"The FAI have been saying that they haven't increased price but things have become a lot more competitive in every facet of Irish life and prices have fallen. The gaps you will see in the crowd tonight should back up everything I'm saying.

"People just don't have the money anymore.

"If it turns out that the Aviva is well below capacity tonight then the price structure for European qualifiers will have to be reviewed.

"For example, we got to see Ireland playing the then world champions Italy last year in Bari for just €10 but are paying between €50 and €110 tonight to watch a team ranked 201 in the world.

"There is absolutely no way that tonight's game will be a classic and yet we're paying over the odds for tickets.

"The FAI's Vantage club scheme has also been a flop."

The breakdown of the prices for away games was Georgia €31 (after the game was rescheduled to Mainz, Germany), Cyprus €25, Italy €10, Bulgaria €5, Montenegro €5.

The FAI was contacted yesterday by the Herald but had not submitted a response by the time we went to print.


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