Halifax bank blunder robs devastated father and son of Euro 2016 dream
A Northern Ireland fan has been left devastated after a blunder by Halifax led to him missing out on tickets for Euro 2016.
Anton McCormick was among the lucky few allocated tickets by Uefa to all three group games at this summer's tournament.
But at the last minute his bank mistakenly blocked the transaction from going ahead - and Anton lost every ticket.
Halifax admitted it had made a mistake and offered £100 in compensation.
But Mr McCormick, who had already booked flights and accommodation in France, said the tickets were priceless as far as he was concerned.
"My dad turns 50 this year and the tickets were a present - we were both going to go," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We haven't qualified for 30 years, so he was really disappointed and upset. I've never seen my dad cry before, but he was in tears at this. It was so disappointing. It has ruined our hopes of attending this once-in-a-lifetime event."
Mr McCormick (23), from Newtownards, Co Down, applied for each of Northern Ireland's group games against Poland, Ukraine and Germany.
Uefa had written to fans instructing them to advise their bank that payments would be taken from successful applicants.
In the case of payment failure, Uefa had warned an application would be cancelled.
After hearing reports of fans having money taken from their accounts last week, Anton's father rang to check if they had a pending transaction.
He was shocked to learn that Halifax had stopped a £490 payment to Uefa.
A transaction is typically blocked when a bank's automatic fraud detection systems notice strange spending patterns, for example overseas purchases. But Halifax had already been notified of a potential transaction, and also failed to contact the McCormicks to check before cancelling.
"My father phoned the bank and they said they had declined the payment," a shell-shocked Anton explained.
"They were able to read out the note that my dad had left on the account a few weeks before that.
"What actually happened was that the payment was chosen for random selection.
"Halifax were meant to contact us to check if the payment was legitimate, but they didn't even follow their own process and it was just declined."
Anton is a lifelong Northern Ireland supporter. His father is also a long-time fan, following the team home and away.
They had been looking forward to joining the thousands of local fans heading to France in June, but now they have no idea if they will now get to the tournament.
"It leaves us in a mess because we have to go through the resale portal," Anton said. "Nothing can be done for us because our application was declined.
"The only thing Halifax have done is give us £100 compensation, but that won't do anything for us. We had already booked our flights and accommodation.
"If we want to proceed any further, we have to contact the Financial Ombudsman. We sent them a letter, but who knows when we will hear back."
A spokesman for Halifax said: "We are very sorry and have made a payment of £100 to Mr McCormick to compensate him for the inconvenience caused."
Around 30,000 tickets were released for Northern Ireland's three group games.
But anger erupted last week after it emerged that hundreds of fans, some of whom have followed the team for 20 years, had missed out.
Others who had never previously bought a Northern Ireland ticket said they had been allocated tickets to all three games.
On Friday an extra 437 tickets were made available by Uefa for the opening game against Poland on June 12.
It followed the release of 839 tickets earlier in the week, making a total of 1,276 extras for the game in Nice - Northern Ireland's first at a major finals for 30 years.