Thursday 12 December 2019

Euro 2016 ticket fiasco: IFA secures 500 extra tickets for Northern Ireland v Ukraine

Northern Ireland fans
Northern Ireland fans

Adrian Rutherford

The Irish FA has secured more than 500 extra tickets for Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 tie against Ukraine.

A further 93 tickets will be available for the match against world champions Germany.

And IFA officials have vowed they will keep pressing for more ahead of this summer's finals in France.

It will go some way to appeasing fans left furious over the fiasco surrounding the allocation of tickets for the tournament.

Last week many loyal supporters were left devastated after missing out.

The opening game against Poland in Nice was a particular problem.

Some who followed the team for almost 20 years were told they had been unsuccessful.

But others who had never bought a Northern Ireland ticket struck lucky.

Appearing before Stormont's culture, arts and leisure committee today, IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson blamed the shambles on a "very small, inadvertent error"  by Uefa.

He explained there were 2,100 tickets available at category three level - the second-cheapest option - for that game.

The IFA asked Uefa to allocate a third to the Follow My Team option, which allowed supporters to buy tickets for Northern Ireland's entire Euro 2016 journey.

The other two-thirds were supposed to be allocated to individual requests for the game.

But Uefa mistakenly reversed this, and put too many tickets into the Follow My Team option, meaning many loyal fans missed out.

Mr Nelson said over 400 people were wrongly given tickets for the Poland game - despite not being deemed a priority.

After widespread anger, Uefa last week said it would make extra tickets available for the Poland game.

Today, Mr Nelson revealed a fresh allocation of tickets had been made for the other two matches.

"What we've got is 1,276 tickets for the Poland game in excess of what we had last Tuesday morning," he added.

"We pushed on them a couple of times already for the Ukraine and the Germany game with less success so far, but we'll continue pushing."

But Mr Nelson revealed 505 tickets had still been secured for the Ukraine game, which takes place on June 16 in Lyon.

There are a further 93 tickets for the final group fixture against Germany in Paris five days later.

"In terms of where we started with our original allocations, we are 35% up on the Poland game, we're 20% up on Ukraine and we're 20% up on Germany," he added.

"But we'll carry on having conversations with Uefa as they get round to allocating more tickets."

Mr Nelson added: "If we can get more tickets we absolutely will."

Pledging to continue to push for tickets, Mr Nelson said Uefa were aware the IFA would fight for its fans.

"I think they will be much more aware now of who they're dealing with at the Irish Football Association," he added.

"They will know that we won't lie down and just take any information from them.

"We will fight the corner for our supporters."

Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 schedule involves:

* An opening game against Poland in Nice on Sunday June 12;

* A match against Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday June 16;

* And that showdown with the Germans in the final group fixture in Paris on Tuesday June 21.

Lyon (59,000) and Paris (48,000) are among the larger grounds.

But the Stade de Nice, the venue for the opening game, is the second-smallest of the 10 stadiums, holding just 36,000.

Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign will see fans embark on a trek of more than 600 miles through France, spanning nine days.

It begins in Nice, second only to Paris in popularity among tourists.

Then it’s a 300-mile journey north to Lyon, before the group stage concludes at the Parc des Princes in the French capital

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