Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hero Gerry Armstrong: 'Sort out our loyal fans over Euro 2016 tickets mess'

By Jonny Bell

Gerry Armstrong has demanded football authorities ensure loyal Northern Ireland fans do not miss out on the team's Euro 2016 adventure in France.

The Green and White Army cried foul when fans discovered earlier this week that they missed out on coveted tickets for the national team's first appearance at a European Championships and their first appearance at a major finals in 30 years.

Fans blasted the sale of the tickets as a "shambles".

Even Northern Ireland's most prominent support, Gary McAllister the chairman of the amalgamated supporters' clubs, missed out on a ticket for the opening Poland game.

Within hours of the outrage, Uefa incredibly announced it was to release 1,000 extra tickets for the opening game against Poland.

Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong said it was now up to Uefa - the organising body - the ensure that fans got tickets.

He said he had been in touch with Uefa officials urging them to "sort out the mess".

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "Uefa cocked up - they've admitted they've cocked up - they aren't saying how, but at least they have held their hands up.

"Now they have to make sure that the loyal fans, who have seen the team through thick and thin get a ticket.

"It's not good enough that people like Gary McAllister didn't get tickets and hopefully whatever Uefa do, they make sure that those fans that deserve it are there."

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Armstrong, who will forever be remembered for his stunning goal against Spain in the 1982 World Cup hailed the team's support as the "best fans in the world".

He added: "I've been with them, with Sky in the qualifying campaigns for the past 10 years and they make the games special.

"Northern Ireland fans have been recognised all around the world. They go to games, enjoy themselves and create an amazing atmosphere.

"They deserve to be with the team for its first tournament in 30 years."

Armstrong has agreed a deal with the BBC to commentate on its live Northern Ireland games against Poland and Germany.

While he will cover the highlights of the Ukraine game which will be shown live on UTV.

The 61-year-old said he opted for the BBC as it had secured the rights for the most Northern Ireland games and has agreed with the broadcaster to commentate on any of Northern Ireland's the knock-out phase games, should they progress.

"Which I hope they do," he added.

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The ex-Real Mallorca and Tottenham striker said he saw a lot of parallels with Michael O'Neill's squad and the team of '82.

"They can really go out there and cause a few upsets," he said.

"Nothing is expected of the team, they can play with freedom and I hope they can get out of the group.

"Like us in '82 nothing was expected of us and we topped the group.

"I see a lot of similarities. They don’t have any out-and-out stars, just a real team spirit and that epitomised our 1982 team."

Armstrong predicted the team would draw their opener against Poland and take a win in the Ukraine game in the finals.

"And against Germany they can enjoy the game - four points will get them through. Hopefully it is all wrapped up for the Germany game, but we've a good record against them and a reputation for getting a result against the big teams.

"I just hope all the fans that have seen the team through it all can be there for it.

"It will be special."

The Belfast Telegraph revealed that touts have begun selling Northern Ireland tickets for vastly inflated sums.

First Minister Arlene Foster said she supported efforts by the IFA and Uefa "to ensure that the deserving supporters are rewarded with tickets".

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