Following protracted negotiations with the Gibraltar FA, UEFA have finally given the green light for the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar to be used for Ireland’s opening Euro 2020 qualifier on March 23.
While the small venue had been successfully used for Gibraltar’s Nations League games, it’s understood that ground improvements, primarily to the floodlighting and media and broadcasting facilities, were required by UEFA before the stadium could be passed fit for the more high-profile European qualifiers this year.
An above-average 800 tickets in the 2,300-capacity venue have already been secured for Irish fans for the game in March and these will be distributed under a new FAI ticket allocation scheme which will give supporters a 25% increase overall.
The new ticketing structure will see 65% allocated to independent supporters who are members of the Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Clubs and Fans’ Direct.
Some 20% will be distributed to supporters from affiliated football leagues and the more than 2,000 clubs which fall under their remit, as well as to Board and National Council members, players/staff, and Club Ireland members.
Another 15% will be provided to supporters who will be travelling with the FAI’s official travel partner, Abbey Travel.
Following controversy and criticism in the past in relation to how tickets have been allocated, especially in the case of fixtures where demand outstrips supply, the new initiative has been broadly welcomed by supporters’ groups.
In a statement carried on the FAI website, the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs (CRISC) said: “The decision to increase the away allocation to 65% is a hugely positive one.
This comes on the back of very positive discussions involving the FAI and CRISC. This is also in addition to recent dialogue between the FAI and YBIG Mandate and is a real positive development ahead of an exciting Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, starting away to Gibraltar in March.
The You Boys In Green Independent Supporters Mandate Committee took a similarly positive line, saying it “welcomes the FAI decision and considers the increase to 65% a very positive step forward.
“We believe that this decision is a reflection of the work that ourselves and the Association have undertaken to rebuild a working relationship with independent fans.
“As per our mandate, we look forward to continued engagement with the FAI and CRISC on any matters that affect independent supporters.”