Martin O’Neill has told the FAI that he’s happy to have Ireland’s training camp and team hotel for Euro 2016 boxed off and all booked up, as the Republic of Ireland confirmed Versailles as their base for the tournament.
But Ireland fans hoping to see Martin O’Neill’s side in France next summer are facing a ticket scramble after the FAI today confirmed the ticket allocation for Euro 2016. And while UEFA’s allocation of 13,000 tickets to Irish fans for the opening game in the group, against Sweden in Paris, is double the amount of tickets which were officially available to Ireland supporters in Poland in 2012, the other two group matches will see an almighty battle to get hold of tickets.
Following a few inspection visits to possible bases in France, O’Neill has finally picked Versailles for the team’s base. The squad will stay at the plush Trianon Palace and train at the stadium of Versailles FC, a short trip of just 2km for training every day.
The advantage of Versailles is the easy access to Paris, so the team won’t have to switch hotels ahead of the first group game. It’s also hoped that the relative remotenes – compared to the team hotel in Poland in 2012 which was right beside the fleshpots of Sopot on the Baltic coast – of the 2016 base will have the players (and assistant manager) more at ease.
“The facilities and accommodation in Versailles are second-to-none, and will cater for every need of the team, management and backroom staff. I visited the area with Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, and both are extremely impressed and looking forward to being based there,” said FAI CEO John Delaney.
Finding a decent training camp was an easy task for the FAI but accessing tickets is a more tricky test for fans, who face the prospect of having a similar-sized allocation of tickets as in Poland in 2012 but with a much higher demand.
The FAI’s allocation is even tighter for the second group match, in Bordeaux against Belgium, just 6,000 tickets coming our way for that one as the stadium has a smaller capacity (42,115).
More will be on offer to Irish supporters for our last game of the group phase, against Italy in Lille (7,000 tickets set aside for Ireland in a stadium which holds 50,186).
Taking in the likely demand for the game in Sweden, the allocation on offer to Irish fans in France is an improvement on Euro 2012: for the tournament in Poland, Ireland supporters were given a ticket allocation of 6,760 for all three group games, though of course Irish support at the matches in Poznan and Gdansk was larger than that of 6,760 as fans accessed tickets through other means, with tickets initially sold to locals in Poland then re-sold to Irish supporters.
However, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, security at Euro 2016 will be heightened and supporters have already been told that selling on tickets outside of UEFA’s ticketing system cannot be used, as fans attending games have to present photo ID and the name on the ticket must match the name on the ID.
UEFA’s ticketing portal for the group matches closes on January 18th and fans will be informed in February if their application has been successful.
However, there is the opportunity to get more tickets through the ‘re-sale’ portal with UEFA. That would allow fans, who bought tickets earlier this year for games before the draw for the finals was made, to sell on tickets for games they no longer want to attend or if they’d bought tickets for matches which their own nation is not involved in.
But Irish fans are still looking for clarity on how exactly tickets will be distributed and while an additional 2,000 tickets will be distributed by the FAI after the close of the UEFA application process, use of the loose phrase “the Football Family” by the FAI in their statement, in terms of who will get access to the extra 2,000, will concern fans who support the side on a regular basis.