Ticketless Northern Ireland fans travelling to San Marino will know tomorrow if they are likely to see their heroes play in next week’s World Cup qualifying match.
Almost one third of the 6,664-seat capacity San Marino Stadium has been allocated to the Green and White Army – but many more supporters are understood to have booked flights in the hope of getting a ticket ahead of the September 1 clash.
Under FIFA rules, away fans are automatically entitled to 5% of the home stadium’s capacity, but on this occasion the San Marino FA has made 30% available. All 1,996 have been sold leaving a number of fans in limbo.
Some reports put the number of Northern Ireland supporters travelling to the Italian principality at almost 3,000 – leaving around 1,000 with a nervous wait.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart posted a Facebook message yesterday expressing concern.
She said: “I am hearing that NI received a smaller allocation of tickets than they require and approximately 1,000 fans who had booked flights and hotel are left in a predicament with no match ticket.”
Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs said he welcomed efforts being made by the IFA to secure additional tickets.
“We have been in communication with the IFA about this issue for a number of weeks and will continue to do so in the hope that this will be satisfactorily resolved in the next few days. In the meantime, we would encourage anyone who has not secured a match ticket and who has not yet contacted the IFA to do so,” he said.
The IFA said almost all of the 1,996 tickets were sold to campaign card holders through a priority booking system, and that only 41 additional tickets have been requested through official channels to date.
An IFA spokesman said: “We have been in regular contact with the San Marino FA to see if tickets will be made available to Northern Ireland fans to purchase on the day of the game. The San Marino FA have said that they will confirm on Friday (25th August) whether this will be possible and the number of tickets that will potentially be available.”