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Republic coach Martin O'Neill critical of "unfair" ticket allocation

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has hit out at the decision to allocate the country's fans just 4,500 tickets for Sunday's Euro 2016 showdown with France.

The Football Association of Ireland has spent the days since O'Neill's side won its place in the last 16 on Wednesday night attempting to secure a larger allocation than the initial 3,500 earmarked for its supporters, and while officials have had moderate success, the number of green shirts at the 59,000-capacity Stade de Lyon will be dwarfed by the blue of the host nation.

Asked about the disparity at his pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon, O'Neill said: "The ticket allocation is something I do have a gripe about.

"It's totally disproportionate for a stadium of this size and this brilliance. For us, or any team that was going to be playing in the round of 16 here, to be allocated less that 5,000 tickets is, I think, pretty unfair, honestly.

"I'm quite sure a few gentlemen round about the place wouldn't necessarily agree, but I think it is. It's totally disproportionate, and not just because it's us. It would be for any side.

"There should have been a certain allocation left aside for the side that would make it here. France have had that opportunity, having advanced three days before us, and so it's going to be severely one-sided in that aspect."

Ireland were backed by a following of around 25,000 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille as they beat Italy 1-0 to progress and the scramble for tickets for Sunday's game since has been desperate.

If the Republic feel they have been dealt a poor hand off the pitch, they could be forgiven for believing they are not much better off on it with France having had three extra days' rest since their last fixture.

However, O'Neill was refusing to make excuses as he prepared for the biggest game of his two and a half-year reign to date.

He said: "As regarding the rest, you just have to take that into consideration. It was always going to be the case when we kicked off last in the competition that we were going to face this problem at some stage or another if we qualified.

"It's upon us now, we just have to deal with it."

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