John Delaney has admitted the FAI made mistakes in their distribution of tickets to Irish supporters for the game against Scotland in Glasgow on November 14 and says that measures will be taken to try and ensure loyal followers of the national team don’t miss out on away games in the future.
However, the FAI boss continues to hold the Scottish Football Association primarily culpable for the ticket problems faced by Irish fans for the big Euro qualifier at Celtic Park, describing their defence of their procedures as “a joke” and suggesting the sale of ‘home’ tickets to ‘away’ fans could have security implications on the night.
“We have had 10,000 applications for 3,200 tickets — we didn’t get enough tickets from Scotland,” said Delaney yesterday, adding that the FAI had requested between 7,000 and 8,000 tickets for the game.
“And the most annoying thing for us is that the Scottish FA told us a couple of weeks ago that they were sold out and wouldn’t increase their allocation.
“But they haven’t been sold out and they’ve been selling tickets right up to yesterday in the Scottish end. And Irish supporters have been buying tickets for that area.
“That creates possibly its own security issues. That’s the part I would be worried about. There’s a certain element of the Scottish supporters who would come from the Rangers element.
“I’m not saying all Rangers fans are badly behaved, don’t get me wrong, but there is a danger. That’s my annoyance. Because they have admitted to us in writing that they have sold tickets to Irish fans in the Scottish end.
“Why put themselves in the circumstance of having to do that? Why not just give us 7,000 or 8,000 tickets for the Irish end?
“I think there must have been some kind of strategy here to try and break our supporters up. Maybe. So that we wouldn’t be loud.”
Speaking to Ray D’Arcy on Today FM, the FAI boss responded caustically to an SFA statement on the issue which said: “We fulfilled our obligated allocation of away tickets under Uefa regulations. The match is now approaching a sell-out and we are releasing the last remaining restricted view seats via public sale for home fans. Given the demand for tickets from Scotland supporters and the need to comply with Uefa security and safety regulations, we will be unable to increase the Republic of Ireland’s away allocation.”
“But that’s a joke,” Delaney shot back. “Because they have admitted to us that they have sold tickets to Irish fans in the Scottish area. And even yesterday, to get to the micro level of it, even yesterday, (having) promised us 3,209 tickets, they tried to take 75 of those away to increase the buffer zone. So we had a battle with them yesterday to get 56 of those back.”
Reacting to criticism from an Irish supporters’ group that some fans who’d travelled to Tbilisi had been turned down for tickets in Glasgow, Delaney denied there’s been a change in policy on the part of the FAI and, instead, attributed the problem to someone in the association taking their eye off the ball.
“There certainly were mistakes made by us,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do is form supporters’ clubs. We’ve formed them over the last number of years in Belfast, in Derry, in London, in Mullingar, Tullamore.
“Now, there’s a particular forum, YBIG (You Boys In Green), they’re good lads and we’ve asked them to form a supporters’ club. They don’t want to and I fully respect that.
“And what we’re going to do now, after this game, is appoint a liaison officer who will deal directly with the away fans who do not want to join supporters’ clubs. And that will rectify it going forward.
“(Loyalty) should be rewarded. I accept that there were certain mistakes from our side. I mean, one of the guys inside in the FAI just said to me the other day, ‘Listen, I took my eye off the ball in certain cases here’.
“When I see that loyal fans have been let down by us, and I accept in certain cases that has happened, you try and rectify that.”
The FAI’s immediate response to the ticket shortfall was to buy 50 corporate tickets at £125 €158 each which they are selling on to Irish fans at £45 (€57). Those tickets, he said, were being allocated yesterday.
Meanwhile, Uefa has contacted both Associations over the row.
It is understood that Uefa has concerns that tickets intended for Scotland supporters have been purchased by Ireland fans.
‘I don’t get a personal application’
As the ticket controversy rages ahead of the Republic’s crucial Euro qualifier in Glasgow, FAI boss John Delaney has denied he gets a personal allocation and revealed Irish players will also feel the effects of the shortfall for Celtic Park.
“No, I don’t get a personal application, I absolutely don’t,” he said yesterday. “I don’t take anallocation of 50 tickets or anything like that. And the players have big applications in and they’re going to be let down. They’re not going to get as many tickets as they would want. Everybody is suffering here.”
Delaney also said that the FAI would not retaliate by limiting the Scottish allocation to the Uefa minimum of 5% for the return game in the Aviva Stadium on June 13 next year.
“No, I think we will be more professional in our dealings with them. We’ll deal with it in a neighbourly fashion, not in the manner of how they have dealt with us.”
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