By Tommie Collins.
Thousands of Welsh fans have been bouncing around in excitement ever since that unforgettable October night in Zenica, Bosnia when the national football team qualified for the forthcoming UEFA Euro 2016 finals in France.
This week has seen many face disappointment or ecstasy when ticket application emails arrived with the best or worst news of the year.
For the loyal fans that had travelled the length and breadth of Europe for many years; they thought – unwittingly – that the FAW [Football Association of Wales] Points system would have been enough for them to gain the tickets they had requested.
Alas, it wasn’t to be.
Firstly, the main problem is the paltry allocation that individual countries were given for the matches. The same happens in the UK for the biggest sporting occasions. Tickets are set aside for hospitality and sponsors which results in tickets being taken away from those that deserve them most.
You could argue that stadiums for the championships should have more capacity, as only two in France hold over 60,000 – The Stade de France at St Denis holds 80,000 and Marseille’s Stade Velodrome holds 67,000.
Welsh fans applied for 52,160 tickets with an initial allocation of 17,700 that was then increased to 21,177.
As in any instance when a team does well, it attracts people who possibly have rarely attended a match. It happens with numerous football clubs when they reach a final. A ticketing system is put in place that ends up only satisfying a fraction of the demand.
But, it seems that UEFA’s system was flawed. There were various ticket categories and there were two different systems. One was buying individual tickets for matches for all categories 1,2,3 and 4 – with 4 being the cheapest.
This category was heavily subscribed. The other choice was a ‘follow my team’. This was only for cat 3 or 1. It now seems that there wasn’t enough tickets in this scheme to satisfy all that applied, and many loyal fans went down this route.
The FAW’s stance is that UEFA should have informed them of this. As a bit of constructive criticism, its worth remembering this was a learning curve for all, possibly more points should have been awarded for the away games.
Therefore, many fans that recently joined the Welsh Supporters Club or bought tournament or half season tickets went for single tickets and were successful, it seems.
With allocations of 8,969 for Wales v Slovakia (Bordeaux) – 5,202 for England v Wales (Lens) and 7,002 for Russia v Wales (Toulouse) respectively, it’s plainly obvious it wasn’t enough to satisfy the demand. In an ideal world, participating countries would get half the stadium allocation.
However, them days are sadly gone.
Some of the unfortunate, but loyal, Welsh fans that are without tickets for France will be attending the forthcoming friendly match against Ukraine in Kiev on March 28th.
This ultimately proves that loyalty certainly counts for nothing.
See also –