John Delaney calls SFA response to ticket row ‘a joke’

FAI chief says association will be ‘more professional’ than ‘bad-mannered’ Scots

FAI chief executive John Delaney has branded as "a joke" the Scottish FA's statement regarding the ticket row ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier in Glasgow.

Delaney and the association have come under fire from Ireland supporters' group Ybig (You Boys in Green) after some loyal fans who have followed the team on away trips for years were denied tickets made available for the Celtic Park fixture.

The SFA has insisted it followed Uefa protocol in distributing the minimum allocation of five per cent - 3,209 tickets - to the FAI for the November 14th clash, and that "given the demand for tickets from Scotland supporters, and the need to comply with Uefa's safety and security regulations, we will be unable to increase the Republic of Ireland's away allocation."

However, speaking to Today FM this morning, Delaney said: “That’s a joke. They have admitted to us that they have sold tickets to Irish fans in the Scottish area. Even yesterday, they had promised us 3,200 tickets. They tried to take 75 of these away to try and increase the buffer zones.

“We had a battle with them yesterday to get 56 of those back. If they were sold out from Scottish fans, I’d accept that. But when they are not sold out and Irish fans are buying tickets in the Scottish area, I don’t accept that. I don’t think it was good manners by them to be honest with you.”

Of the tickets made available by the SFA, "1,700 went to supporters' clubs, season ticket holders, Club Ireland members and known away supporters", according to the FAI. A further "700 went to clubs and leagues", while 15 per cent of the allocation (481) went to Abbey Travel for supporters' packages, 128 tickets went to sponsors and the remaining 200 were "divided between players, backroom team, FAI staff and team management".

“We still haven’t got the tickets yet,” Delaney added today. “They physically haven’t landed yet and the game is just a couple of weeks away.”

He admitted the FAI let “loyal and hardcore fans down” but was endeavouring to make amends, though he still lays the bulk of the blame at the SFA’s door because of the allocation.

“We went out and bought 150 tickets personally at £125 sterling (€159) and we’re selling them to those fans at £45 sterling (€57), to try to rectify an error that was made. What we are going to do after this game is appoint a liaison officer who will deal directly with the away fans that do not want to join supporters groups.

“That will rectify it in the main going forward, but you will never get it right if you don’t have enough tickets. You can’t get it right.

“(Loyal support) should be rewarded and if there is a lesson for us, I accept that there are certain mistakes from our side.”

Delaney added that the FAI would be “more professional” than the SFA when dealing their requests for the June 13th fixture in Dublin next year.

“We’ll see what their allocation applications are,” he said. “I don’t think there is any point in us reducing their allocation and having more Scots in the Irish section. We’ll give them what is fair and deal with it in a neighbourly fashion and not in a manner in how they have dealt with us.”