Ireland supporters to receive 800 tickets for Gibraltar trip
Opening game of Euro 2020 qualification to be held at 2,300 capacity Victoria Stadium
Gibraltar’s Victoria Stadium will host Ireland. Photograph: Marcos Moreno/AFP/Getty
Uefa has finally granted formal permission for the Gibraltar FA to host the opening game of Ireland’s European Championship qualification campaign at their 2,300 capacity Victoria Stadium.
The FAI has now confirmed that the game is certain to be played there and announced that there will be 800 tickets for travelling fans, 65 per cent of which will be allocated to the Irish team’s “most loyal” fans under new distribution arrangements for the coming campaign.
The Gibraltar FA had originally announced their intention to stage the game at the Victoria Stadium in the days after December’s qualification draw, arguing that they had successfully hosted their home Nations League games there without any issues and the FAI raised no real objections.
When the proposal was formally lodged with Uefa, however, the European federation raised a number of issues relating to the stadium’s floodlights, as well as media and broadcast facilities. After an initial meeting between Uefa and the GFA on Monday of this week, efforts to achieve a resolution appear to have gone on for several days before the local association satisfied all of the concerns put to them.
The announcement resolves the extended uncertainty over the venue for the game which had caused Irish fans some issues in relation to travel. Flights to Gibraltar are on the costly side and many held off booking until they were sure that they would not end up having to join locals in making the 400 kilometre trek to Faro, where Gibraltar have previously staged “home” games.
The bigger concern for many fans hoping to travel, however, was match tickets and the association has increased the percentage of away allocations going to regular travellers from 40 per cent to 65 per cent, a move that follows a long standing campaign by independent supporters’ groups.
The changes have been welcomed by them although YBIG suggested in a tweet that more transparency is still with required with regard to distribution - it is common for supporters to question on social media the number of tickets for particular high demand games over which FAI chief executive John Delaney exerts personal control - although the association is understood to have committed to making the system more open.