Belfast Telegraph

UEFA to release 1,000 tickets for Northern Ireland v Poland after fans' outcry at Euro 2016 allocation

Irish FA chief Patrick Nelson urged UEFA to step in and resolve situation

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson
IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson
One fan's rejection letter.

By Steven Beacom

UEFA is to release 1,000 more tickets for the Euro 2016 Northern Ireland v Poland game after a furious outcry from fans at ticket allocation.

There was widespread anger among Northern Ireland supporters when it emerged how tickets for the finals in France have been allocated.

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson told Uefa to resolve the Euro 2016 ticketing controversy which has infuriated Northern Ireland fans as quickly as possible.

But now the Belfast Telegraph understands UEFA is set to release 1,000 more tickets for Northern Ireland fans.

A statement is expected to be released later today where priority will be given to those with priority points.

Read more: Northern Ireland fans' anger over Euro 2016 ticket allocation 'shambles' 

The problem match relates to Northern Ireland's opening group game against Poland on June 12 in Nice, with many fans who have been to home and away games for years missing out on tickets, even though the Irish FA worked with Uefa on a priority scheme which rewarded loyal supporters.

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While some block bookers, who attended every game in the Euro 2016 qualification process, have been unsuccessful in their application for the Poland game, others who did not attend any group matches have received confirmation that they have tickets for Northern Ireland's first fixture in a major tournament for 30 years.

Some fans have blamed the IFA calling the process a "shambles", but Irish football's governing body say they did everything they could to reward loyal fans.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, IFA Chief Executive Nelson sympathised with the supporters and insisted that he had been in contact with Uefa in a bid to sort the problem out.

He said: “Since we were alerted to the problem, I have been straight on to Uefa at high levels to discuss the issue relating to tickets which have been allocated that maybe should not have been allocated.

“I have told them that supporters of many years standing have not received tickets for the Poland game and I have told Uefa they need to resolve this issue.

“It is a major issue and it needs to be resolved straight away and have as positive an outcome as possible.”

Informed that it was unlikely in the extreme that anyone would give up their tickets, the point was made to Nelson that surely Uefa would have to find more tickets for Northern Ireland supporters in order for the controversy to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Originally 6,000 tickets had been allocated to Northern Ireland fans before that figure was increased to 6,816.

Nelson said: "We don't know if Uefa can get extra tickets for Northern Ireland fans at this stage. What we have told them is that we want the issue resolved for our fans as quickly as possible.

“I agree it would be very difficult to take a ticket away from someone who has been given it.”

Asked how the priority system could go so wrong, Nelson replied: “We worked for three months on the priority scheme with Uefa to get this right. We even employed extra people to set the system up.

“The priority system was supposed to reward our most loyal supporters. We did some checks of the data ourselves and we were confident that the right people would get the tickets. The early indications would suggest that the system has not been applied properly.

“I know there are lots of incredibly disappointed people out there. We have had many calls already and I want them to know we are doing all we can to resolve the issue."

Belfast Telegraph Digital