Northern Ireland fans furious over Euro 2016 ticket allocation 'shambles'
Northern Ireland fans have reacted with fury after missing out on tickets for Euro 2016 with some branding it a "shambles".
Supporters heard today if their applications for the finals in France this summer had been successful.
But already some are crying foul over how tickets have been allocated.
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Some supporters who are block-bookers - in other words have attended every game during the qualification process - have missed out.
Yet others who went to just a handful of games, or none, appear to have got tickets.
One fan who spoke to this newspaper said they had not bought a single ticket during the qualifiers - but still got a ticket to all three group games.
It has led to fury, with supporters branding the ticketing system "a shambles" and "a laughing stock".
The opening game against Poland in Nice on June 12 has been a particular problem, with many regular fans seemingly missing out.
The Irish FA had said fans' loyalty would be rewarded with those who regularly attended matches during the qualifying campaign given priority.
The IFA said it has asked Uefa to investigate the ticketing arrangements for the games.
@BelTel yes block Booker for years and due to the failure of the IFA and UEFA to use loyalty scheme properly I have missed out on Poland— Tim Erskine (@timNI81) February 9, 2016
@arutherfordNI I had renewed bb - was at 4 away games in last year. Over 20 points. Applied cat 3 with up or down for best chance. No ticket— Ian McKinney (@Skininho) February 9, 2016
@arutherfordNI Seems to me that UEFA have prioritised those applying for higher categories rather than those with most points. Shambles.— James Tait (@JamesTait23) February 9, 2016
@RBlackBT didn't get a single ticket even with a good priority score. Been goin since mid 90s and this is how they pay you back.— Wazza (@Wazza87NI) February 9, 2016
@RBlackBT add me to that. long term block booker, travelled to Hungary/Finland/Romania this campaign Didn't get 1 of 6500 in Nice. Shambolic— Peter (@Seasider06) February 9, 2016
Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 schedule involves:
- An opening game against Poland in Nice on Sunday June 12;
- A match against Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday June 16;
- And that showdown with the Germans in the final group fixture in Paris on Tuesday June 21.
Lyon (59,000) and Paris (48,000) are among the larger grounds.
But the Stade de Nice, the venue for the opening game, is the second-smallest of the 10 stadiums, holding just 36,000.
In a statement the IFA said: "UEFA are responsible for managing the ticket application process for EURO 2016.
"The Irish FA spent three months working with fans and supporters’ groups to create a priority list based on attendance at Northern Ireland matches over the past two qualifying campaigns. That list was shared with UEFA on 29th January.
"It was our understanding that the priority list would be the basis for all ticket applications for Northern Ireland’s group games at EURO 2016.
"We are currently asking UEFA how the list was applied, particularly in relation to the game against Poland in Nice."
Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign will see fans embark on a trek of more than 600 miles through France, spanning nine days.
It begins in Nice, second only to Paris in popularity among tourists.
Then it’s a 300-mile journey north to Lyon, before the group stage concludes at the Parc des Princes in the French capital.
Faith Seaton said she had attended all the qualifying games with nephew Reece who uses a wheelchair and had requested tickets for the Poland game.
"I am dreading having to explain to the child he won't be at the game in Nice although we have travel booked," she said.
Peter Campbell, has attended games for 20 years, has been a season ticket holder for 16 and has flights booked to Nice with the same four friends who he has sat with in the Kop stand for the past 16 years and all of them were unsuccessful in getting tickets.
"I have been with the team through thick and thin," he said.
"If the fans who got tickets had more UEFA ticket points than me I would not be aggrieved.
"But that doesn't appear to be the case."
Brian Foy has been a supporter for over 40 years and attended all the qualifying campaign's home games and three away games.
He has booked and paid for travel and accommodation to France and secured tickets for the Ukraine game only, despite hoping for tickets to all three fixtures.
"I feel very disappointed and aggrieved to say the very least," he said.