Thursday 27 October 2016

Hardcore fans want first crack at tickets for the Euro Championships

Ireland's John Walters
Ireland's John Walters

Ireland's hardcore band of supporters expect that they will be "looked after first" for Euro 2016 tickets.

Up to 50,000 supporters are expected to descend on Paris, Bordeaux and Lille in June 2016 when Ireland take on Sweden, Italy and Belgium.

The scramble for tickets began yesterday, with fans signing up to register their interest - a lottery for tickets will take place in a few weeks time.

However, demand for tickets is expected to exceed the number available. There are 22 official supporters' clubs around the country and abroad and a large band of travelling supporters that are not associated with the supporters groups.

The supporters' clubs are directly affiliated with the FAI. Gerry Rochford, founder of the Dublin branch - which in 1984 became Ireland's first ever supporters' club - believes they should be catered for first, although he is still in the dark on the situation.

"We should be guaranteed tickets because our supporters club are part of the FAI now, so I hope so. That's why we signed up with them," Mr Rochford said.

"We used to be completely independent.

"What I've been hearing is that they'll look after those that travel to all the matches home and away, regardless of whether they're part of a supporters club or not," he added.

The FAI are expected to release a statement today on how supporters' clubs can avail of tickets.

With such a large number expected to travel to France, Mr Rochford feels it's a strong possibility that some fans will be left disappointed.

The Dublin branch of supporters has more than 300 members alone, charging €30 per annum in registration.

They are preparing a package for supporters ahead of their monthly meeting on January 11.

But regardless of the number of tickets allocated, the trip to France is expected to be reminiscent of The Euros in Germany 18 years ago.

"We haven't booked anything yet, we were waiting to see what the draw was like, but now the treasurer will hopefully be in the process of looking after prices," Mr Rochford said.

"We're thinking of doing what we did in 1988 and hire a bus and go that way," he added.

The FAI is also expected to outline over the coming days which of the training bases on its shortlist it has decided to go with.

Manager Martin O'Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane spent some of the weekend inspecting the training grounds available at Versailles and Croissy- Sur-Seine - both very close to the French capital - where Ireland will play their first game of the tournament against Sweden.

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