Gibraltar remove online ticket sales as 'real risk' of Irish fans purchasing home section allocation

Gibraltar remove online ticket sales as 'real risk' of Irish fans purchasing home section allocation
Ireland played Gibraltar in 2016. Picture: Sportsfile

The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) have said that had they allowed ticket sales for their clash with Ireland to occur online "there was a real risk that these would be purchased by Irish supporters who missed out on the away section allocation."

Ireland travel to Gibraltar for the European Championship qualifier on March 23, which will be Mick McCarthy's first game in his second stint as Ireland manager.

The GFA said there are over 100 tickets left for the game at the 2,300 capacity Victoria Stadium, but they are only on sale from the official store. People wishing to buy tickets from the store also have to show their Gibraltar ID cards as proof of residence.

In a statement on their website the GFA said that they are aware of "queuing times in excess of 3 hours" which they say is "entirely unacceptable".

They say the tickets sales procedure put in place for the match "has taken much longer than what we had anticipated, and the GFA extends its sincerest apologies for this."

They state that to "protect the interests of the local supporter" there was to be no sales conducted online and the GFA selling tickets "from our official shop in Irish Town, and requesting documentation of residence in Gibraltar."

The association highlighted the full reasoning behind this strategy on their website:

  • 1. As a condition of allowing Gibraltar to play its home matches in the Victoria Stadium, UEFA instructed the GFA to allocate a large portion of tickets to the FAI, in order to adequately cater for the demand of the Irish supporters (approximately 40% of the stadium capacity);

  • 2. Even so, the demand far exceeds the allocation, and therefore, had we allowed the sale of tickets to be effected online, there was a real risk that these would be purchased by Irish supporters who missed out on the away section allocation;

  • 3. To protect the interests of the local supporter, and to ensure that as many Gibraltarians as possible had the chance to purchase a ticket, we took the cautious method of removing the online system and selling them from our official shop in Irish Town, and requesting documentation of residence in Gibraltar.
    This is particularly relevant in the absence in our system of any secure “geo-blocking” technology that would ensure fans living in Gibraltar had priority on tickets at all times.

The GFA said they "will review the entire process" ahead of the sides next competitive home game, against Denmark September 5.

They added that as a gesture of gratitude that there will be free entry for the friendly with Estonia on March 26.

The FAI confirmed last month that 800 tickets have been allocated for Irish fans.

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