French restrict access to tickets


World Cup play-offs:In a clear bid to avoid tickets falling into Irish hands, the French FA (FFF) have decided not to sell seats for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier on the internet or over the telephone.

Tickets for the Republic of Ireland's meeting with France in Paris went sale at 11am (12pm French time) but will only be available for fans to buy at designated outlets across France.

It had been thought that seats would be available to purchase online – as had been the case throughout France’s qualifying campaign.

However, having seen Irish fans invade the Stade de France the last time the sides met in Paris the FFF have decided to close down that route of access for Irish supporters.

At the World Cup qualifier back in 2004, about 25,000 racous Irish fans piled into the Saint-Denis venue to witness the Republic of Ireland earn a precious point with a 0-0 draw.

On this occasion, only 8,500 Irish fans will be granted entry to the Stade de France after the FFF confirmed the FAI would receive an allocation of approximately 10 per cent for the match on November 18th.

FAI chief executive John Delaney has let it be known the association will be attempting to persuade the French to increase the allocation.

Yet the FFF are within their rights to only offer 8,500 and insist it the policy is in keeping with other World Cup qualifiers that have taken place at the stadium in this campaign.

“We’ll see what the demand is and keep asking for more tickets along the way,” Delaney said yesterday.

“The Irish fans are very innovative at getting tickets, though, we all know that. They’ll buy them off the French directly and do all the wonderful things they have done in the past. We want to get as many Irish fans as we can into the ground.”

Giovanni Trapattoni, meanwhile, will announce his squad for both matches at a press conference next Friday.

Leon Best has already emerged as an injury concern and the Italian will be keeping his fingers crossed that there are no further mishaps over the weekend.

France coach Raymond Domenech has lost Franck Ribery with the knee injury that has ruled him out for most of the current campaign.

Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal was non-committal when asked about his star winger last night, saying only that he was unable to “confirm how long Ribery will be out for. We have decided to treat him and that could take a month, but I don’t want to be precise tonight”.

Reports in France claim Ribery could be out until next March while the French assistant coach Alain Boghossian is resigned to losing the playmaker for the Ireland double-header.

“For me, Franck is practically out of the play-off,” Boghossian said.