Sep 20 2010

The next big ticket fiasco: Slovensko v Irsko

Published by at 9:40 am under International and tagged: , ,

Nobody was looking forward to moving on from the MSK Zilina v Chelsea ticketing saga more than us here at Britski Belasi. “We will swallow this, but we will not forget this” said the Zilina Ultras.

As Slovak football fans start looking forward to the next big game on home soil, once again we are faced with huge question marks over the organisation of ticket sales.

James Baxter spent last week trying to acquire tickets for Slovakia’s European qualifier against Ireland.  Here he explains how thousands of fans will, inexplicably, be left ticketless:

Zilina v Chelsea is now behind us. That does not mean, Jozef Antosik, that supporters have forgotten your exploitative practices over tickets for that game, it just means we have had enough of the issue for now. Meanwhile, the next game on Slovak soil where demand for tickets is likely to exceed supply is coming up fast. This is Slovakia v Ireland in a Euro 2012 qualifier on October 12, also in Zilina. I hate it to say so but I fear that this game too is going to be surrounded by disputes and recriminations.

In fact, there has already been one row ; between the Slovak and Irish football associations (the SFZ and the FAI respectively) over the venue. What seems to have happened is that, at initial discussions, the two bodies agreed in principle that the match should be in Bratislava. The SFZ then sent the FAI a written communication in which, the FAI claim, Bratislava was confirmed as the venue. ‘No,’ say the SFZ, ‘our letter did not contain any official confirmation.’ Later, the SFZ announced that the fixture would take place not in Bratislava but in Zilina.

Naturally, this has caused confusion. On receiving the original SFZ letter, the FAI notified Ireland supporters that the game would be in Bratislava. On the basis of this, many began to make travel arrangements. Altering these to accommodate a six-hour round trip by train from the Slovak capital to Zilina is not a simple matter. Those Irish visitors booked on the October 13th flight from Bratislava to Dublin, for example, will have to take a 2.40am train from Zilina – four hours after the game finishes – to make it to the airport in time. There have been suggestions in some quarters that the SFZ should lay on coaches to take away supporters from Bratislava to Zilina and back again. But this would involve the SFZ making at least a tacit admission that they have made a mistake. And the SFZ never make such admissions.

It was always fairly obvious that the SFZ were the guilty party in this dispute, however. For a start, a more accident-prone organization is difficult to imagine. Next to the SFZ, Frank Spencer is a model of assured competence. And, just thinking this venue question through logically, it’s difficult to believe that, if the FAI had received a letter saying, ‘the match between our countries on October 12 should take place in Bratislava but we reserve the right to change the venue,’ they would have taken this as final, definite, confirmation. It might be that nobody at the SFZ possesses the English language skills required to compose such a letter but finding a decent translator should not have been a problem. Slovakia is full of them.

Pod Dubnom: Slovakia's best

Now to tickets. The Zilina stadium is the best in Slovakia at present – why the SFZ were even considering the dreadful Pasienky ground in Bratislava as a potential venue is a question worth asking – but can only accommodate around 11,000 people. Britskibelasi has already written very well about the fact that there are no  larger stadiums with decent facilities in the country so we will leave that issue for now. The fact is that we are stuck with Zilina and its 11,000 capacity. Ireland have been given just over 1,000 tickets, a woefully inadequate number considering the usual size of their away following. As for home fans, the SFZ are selling to them exclusively through Ticketportal, an agency with outlets all over Slovakia. If you are registered, you can reserve tickets online with Ticketportal, but you have to go and pay for them in person within 24 hours. For the Ireland match, reservations and sales were supposed to start on September 12. That was changed to September 14, then September 17. A very short time after the online reservation system finally became active, all available tickets were taken. There seems to be general consent on internet forums that only around 3,000 tickets were actually made available. Some fans claim they were refreshing the Ticketportal page every minute or so, waiting for reservations to commence, yet still didn’t manage to secure tickets.

As with the Zilina v Chelsea game (sorry to mention that again), one wonders what is going on here. The SFZ have said that they have held back a number of tickets to distribute privately. If the people who have these tickets held do not claim them, they will go on sale through Ticketportal. It is understandable that the association would hold some tickets, but 7,000? Who are these people? Essentially, it all looks like another fiasco. On October 12, there will almost certainly be thousands of ticketless Irish fans, and a similarly high number of angry, frustrated Slovaks. It is terribly sad that, at a time when Slovakia has a magnificent coach (in Vladimir Weiss) and a team to be proud of, the body charged with running the game in the country continues to explore new depths of uselessness.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “The next big ticket fiasco: Slovensko v Irsko”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by In bed with Maradona, Niall Farrell, Daniel Richardson, Daniel Richardson, Daniel Richardson and others. Daniel Richardson said: Slovakia v Ireland takes place in a few weeks in Zilina. Well organised? Forget about it-The Next Big Ticket Fiasco: [...]

  2.   Brendan Fahyon 29 Sep 2010 at 2:46 am

    I’ll be there in Zilina as I’ve been told that I’m getting a ticket from the FAI for the game.

    However I’ve learned that the FAI are getting less than half the tickets they requested so going by what britskibelasi said it’s not surprising.

    Come on the Boys in Green.

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