Wednesday 17 January 2018

Video: It’s common sense that you reward people who travel more regularly to Ireland games

Ireland fans who have supported the Boys in Green regularly away from home in the past should be rewarded for their loyalty when it comes to ticket distribution for Bosnia away.

That’s the feeling from our panel ahead of the crunch Euro 2016 play-off clash in November.

Ireland will be allocated around 750 tickets for the away leg in Zenica on Friday, November 13 and that will mean some fans will miss out.

Last year the FAI came under much scrutiny for their distribution of away tickets for the game against Scotland in Glasgow with many regular away travellers not getting a ticket.

Following that match, John Delaney and the FAI promised to introduce a new scheme, called Fans Direct, to ensure the same issues do not crop up again.

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“A lot of fans are going to be caught between wanting to go but because the flights are so expensive, you book your flight but you don’t know if you are going to get a ticket, do you really want to go all the way to a provincial town in Bosnia and not see the game? There are going to be problems,” said Aidan Fitzmaurice of the Herald.

“How the tickets will be allocated is still an ongoing issue. I was reading recently about Welsh fans who played there. Wales fans have a points system for away games.

“If you travel to an away game a certain amount of points are transferred onto your record with the Welsh FA and that stands you in good stead the next time you want to go. They prioritise fans who travel to away games and that is something that isn’t done here in any sort of formal way, there is no points system. It is something the FAI need to do,” added Fitzmaurice.

Eoin Byrne from independent fans group YouBoysInGreen says that the new scheme, Fans Direct, does not go far enough and highlighted the fact that supporters have missed out on cheap flights because of the uncertainty around tickets.

“The thing that really seems to be annoying a lot of people is the complete lack of any certainty,” said Byrne.

“For instance, for Wales’ game, anyone who had been to eight or more away games in the last three campaigns got a ticket. They had 750 tickets and 600 fans fell into that category. The remaining 150 tickets were distributed between fans who had been to six or four away games.

“We don’t have that level of certainty at all. It seems to be relatively informal, we don’t know exactly how it works.

“They did intend to set up a scheme called Fans Direct, it seems they did set it up but they said before the Poland game you would be told how many points you have on this system and as far as I am aware, nobody has been told how many points they have.

“There are fans who could have booked flights for €150 yesterday but they didn’t because they don’t know if the will get a ticket and them same flights are now €400.”

The Irish Independent’s Daniel McDonnell added: “It’s common sense to a degree that you reward people who travel more regularly to the games. The flip side of that is you always want more people following the team, there is always going to be the glamour game that attracts people.

“I think it sits very uncomfortably if people who have travelled to some of the outposts don’t get looked after.” 

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