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Tout storm forced me to give back 80 tickets

A DUBLIN man has been forced to give back 80 tickets for tomorrow's big game after being wrongly named as a ticket tout in the Estonian media.

Owner of Tallinn's Molly Malone's pub Patrick Doherty became public enemy number one among Estonian soccer fans after being photographed snapping up dozens of tickets.

"There was a massive thing in the media here for about two days," he told the Herald. Patrick was even forced to appear on the evening news to defend himself and eventually "gifted" 80 tickets to Estonian fans at a personal cost of more than €1,000.

"When they sold the tickets here I queued up and got 100 tickets. I chanced it," he said.

"I had actually asked for 150 but the machine was so slow printing them out that people behind me were starting to get really frustrated. It took half an hour to print 100. They obviously knew I was Irish. We got the tickets and scarpered," he explained, adding that he had hoped to raffle them among customers at his pub.

However, a Tallinn journalist who was photographing the ticket queues put an image of Mr Doherty on line under the heading: 'Irishman seen buying 100 tickets.'

"He never said who I was, but then another guy who was in the queue went on the forum and said 'that's the guy from Molly Malone's bar'.

"The news caught on to it then. They claimed I was a ticket tout. I had to go on the Six O'Clock News to explain myself."

Eventually he contacted the Estonian FA with an offer to return the tickets even though they had been bought legitimately. "We actually gave 80 tickets back as a goodwill gesture to the Estonian fans. We're giving 20 tickets away in a raffle." His intention originally was to give the tickets away to the Irish fans.

"You have to understand that this is a totally new experience for the Estonian. They are worried about sticking to the UEFA rules and segregating the supporters," he said.

Patrick is still in line for a winning few days as his bar is likely to be a base camp for the Green Army. "We had to build a new bar for this game," he laughed adding that he'll probably sell 5,000 pints today and tomorrow.