A local Northern Ireland supporter is leading the charge after Tuesday’s ticketing blunder.
Many of the team’s most loyal supporters missed out on tickets for their Euro 2016 group matches, despite being assured that wouldn’t be the case.
After talks between the Irish FA and UEFA, a points system was introduced in order to ensure the most loyal supporters were not disappointed. Yet Banbridge man Ian McKinney, who has been a block-booker since 2002 and among many others, was left dismayed after fans received their ticket confirmation on Tuesday morning.
Ian was fortunate enough to secure tickets for the games against both Ukraine and Germany but it is the opening match against Poland which he imissed out on.
Now he faces an anxious wait to the end of the month to find out if he will be lucky enough to secure one of the extra tickets released by UEFA, specifically targetted at those at the top of the points system.
While other block bookers are worse off and haven’t yet been allocated any tickets, Ian took to BBC Radio Ulster to voice his concerns and also told the Leader he was “totally gutted and angry” at the whole situation.
“The IFA led us to believe that the priority points scheme would reward loyal fans who had travelled home and away to support the team,” he said.
“People who have never been to a game in their lives have a ticket, and people who have been all over Europe supporting Northern Ireland have missed out.
“The IFA and UEFA between them need to do something, a good start would be to give some of the tickets reserved for faceless suits to real fans,” Ian concluded before the announcement of extra tickets.
When contacted by the Leader, UEFA confirmed that “the loyalty scheme for all matches had been implemented according to the scheme provided by the IFA.”
“However,” they continued, “for the match against Poland the demand of fans with the highest priority was higher than the number of available tickets in category 3, since UEFA also reserved a certain quota for “Follow my Team” applicants.
“UEFA are now in a position to make available extra tickets to ensure that those Northern Ireland fans at the top of the Irish FA’s priority list will be able to attend the match.
“These tickets will be across all categories and those top-ranking fans who had missed out and who qualify for this new allocation will be contacted directly by UEFA towards the end of the month.”