FAI lash Scottish FA over tickets as O'Neill backs fans
THE FAI has lashed out at its Scottish counterparts over the low number of allocated tickets for the upcoming crunch Euro 2016 qualifying tie - even though some are still available to buy online.
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has rowed in behind disgruntled fans who made the long trip to Georgia but find themselves ticketless for next month's clash in Glasgow.
Sources say that FAI officials have not found it easy to deal with the Scottish FA on the issue and ongoing efforts to cater for the hardcore travelling support will be problematic.
Ticket sales for the game at Celtic Park on November 14 were poor in Scotland prior to Ireland's draw in Germany and another win for Gordon Strachan's team against Georgia.
Those results raised expectation in both countries and now, with the strong possibility that the clash of the Celts in Glasgow and Dublin could be pivotal in deciding which team qualifies for Euro 2016, a surge in demand means that game will be a sell-out.
Many of the diehard fans who made the long trek to Georgia last month have been following Ireland for decades.
O'Neill said he met some supporters outside the team hotel in Tbilisi last month where he heard first-hand the effort fans will make to support their team.
"Georgia is not an easy place to get to. I met up with a couple of people outside the hotel. They were seven hours waiting for a flight in Istanbul," he said.
"Those fans who travelled to Georgia and Germany - and the atmosphere they created - deserve a ticket," he said.
O'Neill knows that the 5pc allocation which the FAI has received has been massively oversubscribed and clearly believes that the SFA could have been more generous.
"It seems unfortunate. I think we would have been reciprocal to Scotland if they'd come and asked for a bigger percent if the game was in Dublin," he added.
And last night the FAI confirmed it received "a minimum 5pc ticket allocation from the SFA... equating to 3,209 tickets.
"Demand for these tickets is four times higher than the number available," the FAI said in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
"So far, the Association has secured an additional 150 tickets from companies in Scotland for corporate €160 seats that will be given to supporters who missed out at the general admission price of €60," the statement outlined.
"We continue to call on the SFA to provide adequate numbers of seats for Irish supporters, and in the meantime will strive to find remedies for ticketless supporters where possible.