Euro 2016: Just the ticket for loyal Northern Ireland fans
Irish FA chief: 'I've felt the paint of the Northern Ireland fans'
The Irish FA have vowed to work closely with Uefa in the coming weeks to make sure that the 1,267 extra Euro 2016 tickets for Northern Ireland fans are allocated correctly this time.
As revealed in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph, high level talks between the IFA and Uefa led to hundreds more tickets becoming available for Northern Ireland supporters for Michael O'Neill's team's opening Euro 2016 clash with Poland on June 12 in Nice.
The extra 437 tickets announced yesterday added to the further 839 tickets allocated by Uefa on Tuesday, after it became clear that hundreds of top-ranked supporters in the IFA's priority system had missed out on the initial distribution.
Supporters, who believed they had the necessary number of priority points to attend the games, were furious when it became apparent they missed out.
From a ticket shambles, now a shedload more tickets are available to Northern Ireland fans.
The IFA say that anyone with 13 points or more, and applied previously for Category Three tickets for the Poland game, will now receive what they wanted in the first place... entry into the game.
Thirteen points equates to a fan that had a block booking for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Supporters who have 13 points but who split their points with a fan who had fewer or no points will not have access to this extra allocation.
An IFA statement read: "The Irish FA will now work with Uefa to make sure that the priority scheme that the Association had put in place is applied correctly for the top-ranked supporters that missed out on the initial allocation. Uefa have said that they will contact supporters who qualify for the new release of tickets by the end of February."
While supporters are happy that more tickets have been made available for the Poland game, there are still some upset by unsuccessful applications for the other group games in France against Ukraine and world champions Germany.
At this stage, Uefa won't be releasing any extra tickets for the Ukraine match in Lyon or Germany in Paris.
Asked who was going to accept responsibility for the failings of earlier in the week, IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: "It is not a matter of anyone accepting responsibility for this. We have both (Uefa and IFA) worked through this together, we provided the priority system to Uefa and we have identified that there was a small inadvertent issue in how they handled it and what we have come out with is a lot more tickets for Northern Ireland fans, so we are happy with that."
Some supporters had been demanding an apology from the IFA, but Nelson said: "We have been working very hard this week to actually try and ensure as many fans as possible could get into the Poland game and we are pretty happy that we now have more than expected going to that game.
"It's taken two and a half days to get here which in many ways is a very long time. In other ways when you look at it from a forensic level it has been a very quick resolution. We shared the pain of supporters this week and are content where we are."
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announced last night that another 832 extra tickets had been released by Uefa for the Republic of Ireland fans.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said: "We are continually in talks and correspondence with Uefa for more tickets, and this policy has proven successful up to now."
The IFA say they too will continue to keep in touch with Uefa and ask for more tickets.
Three key questions
Steven Beacom: So, will someone with 13 points in the IFA’s priority system now get a ticket for the Poland game in Nice on June 12?
IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson: If they applied for a category 3 ticket before, are on 13 points and validated in the system — and we will double check that with Uefa to make sure we get the right people there — they will get access to the new portal and be able to buy tickets. This should resolve all the issues that came up on Tuesday.
SB: What about those high ranking fans in the priority scheme who didn’t get tickets for the Germany and Ukraine games?
PN: The data we have, and we have worked with Uefa on this, is that 98% of people in our top priority category for Germany and Ukraine got the tickets. What we are open to doing is that if someone is out there who should have got a ticket for either the Germany or Ukraine game and didn’t get one, we are very happy to look at that and analyse what may have happened there.
SB: My understanding is that privately the IFA feel Uefa did not apply their priority system correctly, hence the problems earlier this week. Have Uefa accepted any responsibility for this?
PN: It is not a matter of anyone accepting responsibility for this. We have both worked through this together, we provided the priority system to Uefa and we have identified that there was a small inadvertent issue in how they handled it and what we have come out with is a lot more tickets for Northern Ireland fans, so we are happy with that.