Blow for Republic of Ireland fans as FAI receives just 600 tickets for Bosnia away match
Irish fans hoping to pick up a ticket for the away play-off leg against Bosnia in Zenica have been dealt a massive blow with the FAI only receiving 600 tickets.
Due to UEFA regulations, the capacity of the Bilino Polje Stadium will be just 11,500, 4,100 less than the normal 15,600 that the ground holds.
FAI chiefs have been engaged in lengthy talks with their Bosnian counterparts in a bid to secure more than the allocated five per cent for the large number of Ireland fans who are hoping to make the trip.
Those talks proves somewhat fruitful, with the Association increasing the allocation from 575 to 600 tickets.
It is understood that this will be the final number of tickets available to the FAI, with no more scope to get another increase and fans will be informed if their applications have been successful on Monday.
Many Irish fans have held back on booking flights and accommodation to Zenica because of the uncertainty around whether or not they will get a ticket for the match.
Under the current FAI ticket strategy, away tickets are distributed as follows:
- 55 per cent will be distributed to supporters from affiliated football Leagues and more than 2,000 clubs that fall under their remit, Board and National Council members, players/staff, Club Ireland members, and Jack Charlton Lounge patrons.
- 30 per cent will be allocated to independent supporters who are members of Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporter Clubs or Fans' Direct.
- 15 per cent will be provided to supporters travelling with the FAI's official travel partner, Abbey Travel. These supporters have their details of match attendance at away games logged should they ever decide to apply independently for tickets.
This system has, however, been criticised by some sections of the Irish support.
While just 30pc of all tickets have been allocated to regular travelling fans, members of Supporters Clubs or the wider football family are not judged on their previous travel history with the distribution of tickets at he discrepancy of each club.
Members of Fans Direct, who are independent fans and not aligned of any FAI affiliated Supporters Club, are judged on a points-based system and previous matches atended.
"The introduction of Fans Direct is a stepping stone and very much welcomed. We are very open to working with the FAI to make sure all fans are treated equally when it comes to ticket distribution," said a spokesperson for Fans group YouBoysInGreen.ie.
"We feel all fans should be judged on the same basis. A points-based system should be introduced for every group of Irish fans and that way, those who travel to more games will be the ones who have a better chance of securing a ticket. That is how it works in England, Scotland and Wales and is absolutely a fair system."