Giovanni Trapattoni’s team could be boosted by having as many as 20,000 Irish supporters in attendance at each of their three group games in the European Championship finals in Poland.
The huge figure — more than triple the original official allocation — is being predicted by FAI chief executive John Delaney and is based on additional tickets already sourced by the association plus tickets being bought directly through the UEFA website and other channels, sponsors’ allocations and the traditional ingenuity of Irish supporters.
If the prediction comes to pass, it would mean that the Green Army would comfortably fill approximately half of the 42,004 capacity Municipal Stadium in Poznan, where they will face Croatia and Italy, and half of the 40,818 capacity PGE Arena in Gdansk for the meeting with Group C favourites Spain. Currently, says Delaney, Ireland are on course to have the fourth-highest support at this summer’s finals.
Ireland’s original official UEFA allocation was 6,000 tickets per game, on top of which the FAI have already secured an additional 2,300 spread across the three games and, likely to be officially confirmed this week, another 2,000 for the Italy game because the Italians have not taken up their full allocation for that fixtureon June 18.
The FAI boss said: “We now have about 7,000 for each game and probably 9,000 for the Italian match. If you add in what Abbey Travel get and what the UEFA sponsors get and our own sponsors get, that’s going to be close to 10,000. Then you’ve got to factor in how many Irish have bought their tickets directly and I think we’ll have close to 20,000 in the grounds for each of those three games.
“I’m going on the basis that, within Ireland, about 10,000 tickets will be distributed for the first two games and 12,000 — if we get the extra 2,000 — for Italy. Then you’ve got to add how many Irish have bought abroad through Poland and how many will buy off the ticket touts or whatever.”
The numbers sourcing tickets through the UEFA resale facility would appear to be significant.
“It would be, we hear,” said John Delaney. “Because we’re getting e-mails coming in saying, ‘we’re okay now’. And we’ll be trying right up to the end to get as many fans in as we can.”
Delaney has also noticed a spin-off effect of mushrooming Irish interest in the Euros.
“A guy came up to me in a shop the other day,” he said, “and he thanked me and I said, ‘for what?’, and he said because he brings most of the camper vans into Ireland. He said, ‘you’ve made me a fortune’. A lot of guys are basing themselves in Germany and moving in and out for the games. The Irish are ingenious at finding a cheaper way of finding their tickets.”
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