Loyal Ireland fans who traipsed to Tbilisi and Gelsenkirchen should be rewarded with tickets for the Scotland game next month, according to Martin O’Neill.
A backlash from the hardcore Irish supporters to the ticketing policy of the FAI for the Celtic Park showdown has been apparent in recent days.
And, while the association last night criticised the Scottish FA for failing to release more than the required 5% (3,209) of capacity, O’Neill is adamant the regular away fan deserves to be prioritised.
“I’ve a lot of sympathy for people who made a big trip to like, Georgia, as it wasn’t easy to get to,” he said.
“We spoke to people outside our hotel that had spent seven hours waiting for a connecting flight in Istanbul. If they are people who miss out on our games, that would be very disappointing.”
Early psychological victories do count for the Scots, however, and the former Celtic manager believes the FAI wouldn’t have acted similarly if the tables were turned.
“It seems unfortunate to only get 5% of tickets; we would have been reciprocal to Scotland,” he asserted.
“Had the first game against Scotland been in Dublin, I genuinely think we would have been accommodating if they’d requested a bigger percentage of tickets.”
Last night the FAI released a statement, part of which read: “The Association regrets that the SFA has not increased this allocation to date. It is particularly disappointing that the Scottish FA is continuing to sell tickets on its website after they had told us that the match was sold out. Many of these tickets are now being taken up by Irish supporters out of desperation, a situation that could be resolved easily by providing adequate numbers of away tickets in a designated Irish section of the stadium.
“Of the tickets confirmed to date, 1,700 went to supporters’ clubs, Season Ticket holders, Club Ireland members and known away supporters. 700 went to clubs and leagues. The fulfilment of contractual obligations also meant that there were fewer tickets available to the Association to distribute directly for this match — 481 went to Abbey Travel for supporters’ travel packages as per contract (15% of allocation) as official travel partner of the Association, and 128 went to sponsors. The remaining 200 tickets are divided between players, backroom team, FAI staff and team management.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved