Ireland to play Gibraltar at 2,300 capacity Victoria Stadium
Visitors likely to receive 300 allocation after confirmation tie won’t be moved to Algarve
Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier away to Gibraltar will be held at the Victoria Stadium. Photograph: Marcos Moreno/AFP/Getty
The Gibraltar FA has confirmed that the Ireland’s opening European Championship qualifying game will be in the 2,300 capacity Victoria stadium rather than the Estadio Algarve. The decision is likely to spark a scramble for tickets amongst supporters with the FAI set to get just 300 seats as its allocation for the game.
“It’s only been two days and we have not really thought about tickets at this stage,” said the host association’s Communications Officer Steven Gonzalez, “but we have formally confirmed that the game will be here.”
“We played all of our Nations League games in Gib and we are working towards playing all of our European qualifiers here too. It has been good for our fans who don’t have to travel 400 kilometres to see the team play and our results have been much better since we started playing here too.”
The FAI have confirmed that they have been informed of the venue for the game which will take place on Saturday, March 23rd but say they are still exploring the logistics involved, with no news at this stage on travel arrangements or ticketing.
The latter has previously proven to be a major issue when Ireland have played at small venues, with many independent travelling fans complaining that they have been overlooked by the FAI in favour of those connected to officially recognised supporters’ groups despite having, in many cases, long records of loyal attendances at away matches.
Gonzalez said that while no real thought had gone into the tickets situation at their end, the association had sold out all of the games played in the ground and he did not expect any special arrangements to be arrived at for the travelling Irish fans. “We have to look after our own fans and think of the ones, in particular, who could not make it to the Algarve to see Ireland play the last time the two countries met” he said. “I’m sure it would be the same if the situation was reversed and the game was in Dublin.”
Under the competition’s regulations, the visiting associations are entitled to five per cent of the ground’s capacity plus “up to 200 VIP,” tickets. That is likely to amount to around 300 tickets for the FAI, a significant number of which are likely to be taken up by its own officials, sponsors and guests.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has already expressed reservations about the artificial pitch in Gibraltar, a surface he feels won't suit his side. “It will be a pitch the lads don’t particularly like playing on," he said on Sunday. "Fortunately, we can train on one but I don’t want to get on a 4G pitch to train for four or five days.”
The Danes have yet to formally confirm the venue for Ireland’s game there in June but it is widely expected that the match will take place in Copenhagen.