It was Giovanni Trapattoni who made the decision that Ireland would not play a friendly game against Albania during their forthcoming pre-Euros training camp in Italy.
“The manager wasn’t keen on it,” FAI chief executive John Delaney revealed yesterday.
“The request was put to us and our view was that if the manager didn’t want to play it, fine, and if he did, that was fine too. He took the final decision. And it was a football decision.
“The possibility of injuries and the fact that it would have been a full-scale international with Fifa rankings at stake, may have come into his mind and I fully support him.”
There are still plans in train for the Irish to play a warm-up game against a local selection on the evening of Tuesday, May 29 at a venue some 20km from the squad’s training base in Montecatini, Tuscany.
And although the Irish party are not flying out to Italy until Sunday week, Delaney revealed, 10 years on from the Saipan debacle, the team’s training skips have already arrived in Montecatini and also Budapest where Ireland will play Hungary in an eve of Euros friendly on June 4.
Having written to Uefa to say they have been inundated with ticket requests for Ireland’s group games, Delaney reported yesterday that the FAI have received an additional allocation of 200 tickets for the games against Spain and Italy.
“It’s helpful, even if it won’t solve the problem of the waiting list we have,” he said.
“We’ll keep asking right up to the last minute for as many tickets as we can to get as many fans as possible into the ground. We got 6,000 per game to start with. Then we got an extra 2,300 in total.
“That’s 20,300. Then we got an extra 2,000 for the Italian game, that’s 22,300. Now we have another 400, which brings us just short of 23,000 that we got directly ourselves. And with Abbey Travel and our sponsors, we’re certainly north of 25,000 tickets distributed to Irish fans in Ireland.”
And there may be some more to come. Although Spain and Croatia have taken up their full allocations, the Italians have not and Delaney said he was hoping Irish supporters might yet be given access to the surplus.
On the subject of the FAI’s joint expression of interest — with Scotland and Wales — in hosting Euro 2020, Delaney said the association would adopt a wait and see policy in regard to other possible bids before considering whether or not to take part in a formal bid themselves.
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