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Gibraltar FA stop online ticket sales to prevent Ireland fans purchasing more than allocation

Mick McCarthy’s first game in charge is away to the Group D minnows next month, and it is now a sell-out.

Travelling Ireland fans.
Travelling Ireland fans.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Feb 5th 2019, 4:29 PM

THE GIBRALTAR FOOTBALL Association has taken measures to stop Republic of Ireland fans obtaining the majority of tickets for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifier. 

Mick McCarthy begins his second spell at the helm away to the Group D minnows on Saturday, 23 March. 

After a period of uncertainty, it was announced last week that Uefa have permitted Gibraltar to play the game at the 2,300-capacity Victoria Stadium instead of the 30,000-seater Estadio Algarve in Faro, Portugal, which has hosted them in the past. 

Necessary upgrades are being made to the tiny ground to ensure it meets Uefa standards. 

Away fans have been allocated approximately 900 tickets, and general sales began yesterday. However, the Gibraltar FA has released a statement to announce that online purchases will no longer be available as they attempt to prevent Irish supporters buying tickets for the home section. 

“As a condition of allowing Gibraltar to play its home matches in the Victoria Stadium, Uefa instructed the GFA to allocate a large portion of tickets to the FAI, in order to adequately cater for the demand of the Irish supporters [approximately 40% of the stadium capacity],” the statement reads.

Even so, the demand far exceeds the allocation, and therefore, had we allowed the sale of tickets to be effected online, there was a real risk that these would be purchased by Irish supporters who missed out on the away section allocation.

“To protect the interests of the local supporter, and to ensure that as many Gibraltarians as possible had the chance to purchase a ticket, we took the cautious method of removing the online system and selling them from our official shop in Irish Town, and requesting documentation of residence in Gibraltar.

“This is particularly relevant in the absence in our system of any secure “geo-blocking” technology that would ensure fans living in Gibraltar had priority on tickets at all times.”

The match has since sold out today, with the football association’s official Twitter account tweeting: 

The Gibraltar FA also apologised to home fans for queues in excess of three hours, and added that tickets for the friendly at home to Estonia on 26 March will be free of charge “as a gesture of gratitude”. 

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Ben Blake

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