Belfast Telegraph

Fans go free at Montenegro match

Northern Ireland football fans travelling to the Balkans for the team's next away match will get their tickets for free.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) said it will cover the bill for the Montenegro game in two weeks' time as a thank you to the supporters for their loyalty over the years.

The decision comes after the Football Federation of Montenegro informed the IFA that tickets for the friendly encounter on Wednesday August 11 at the City Stadium, Podgorica, would be a nominal price.

While the so-called Green and White Army has travelled en mass around Europe to follow Northern Ireland in recent years, the ranks are set to be somewhat depleted for the clash in the former Yugoslavia.

The game also comes ahead of September's opening Euro 2012 qualifying game in Slovenia.

William Campbell, the Irish FA's head of operations, said: "The Northern Ireland fans continue to demonstrate their loyalty, travelling all over the world to support the team. Nigel Worthington and his players are appreciative of their continued support and so are we.

"This represents a small gesture of the Irish FA's gratitude towards the fans who represent us with such pride on their travels. We wish them all a safe and enjoyable trip to Montenegro."

The Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs welcomed the move by the IFA, which also stumped up for away tickets for the friendly match in Albania earlier this year.

"This is a great gesture by the IFA," said spokesman Gary McAllister. "It's recognition of the dedication of the fans who make the effort to travel to the friendly matches.

"Not everyone can make these games and those who do often make many sacrifices to get there. It's good that the IFA recognise their efforts."

From Belfast Telegraph