2012: the year England's supporters stayed at home


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The Independent Online

England will play their Euro 2012 games in front of only a few thousand of their fans, with the Football Association having sold only 3,000 tickets for each of their group games.

The FA received allocations of roughly 7,500 tickets for their games against France and Ukraine in Donetsk, and 9,000 for the Sweden match in Kiev. These tickets were offered to the official membership group of 28,000 England fans, and after 5,000 individual applications only 3,000 were sold this way to supporters. The remaining tickets were returned to Uefa's general sale.

While the FA does hope that as many as another 10,000 England fans travel independently and buy their own tickets, recent official figures anticipate only another 2,000 England fans at the France and Ukraine games and another 3,000 against Sweden.

"It's partly the economic background, as a lot of people are feeling the pinch," explained Kevin Miles, the international director of the Football Supporters' Federation. "Then there is the cost of some of the flights – it's not like nipping to Portugal or Holland and Belgium where recent tournaments have been."

The challenges of playing all three group games in Ukraine are also relevant. "It is a country with huge distances," Miles said, "and with pretty basic infrastructure, which makes getting around very difficult."

The FA, anticipating these concerns, is not surprised or disappointed. But the result is that England fans, usually a dominant presence at any international tournament, will be outnumbered. The England games, like the other group games in Ukraine as well as those in Wroclaw in Poland, have not yet sold out. Uefa insisted yesterday that they were confident all the stadiums would be full, and that there were only a few tickets left to be sold.

There has been strong interest from Ukraine and Poland and a heavy local presence is likely at each of England's group games. There are thought to be more Ukrainian and Russian fans attending England's group games than English fans themselves.

England's supporters are likely to be outnumbered by Sweden's for the game in Kiev on 15 June. Official estimates predict as many as 19,000 Swedes in the stadium, with the Swedish association having sold closer to 8,000 of their official allocation.

Sweden are one of a number of countries with a camp for their fans to stay in. Not run by the Swedish association but by Camp Sweden, the campsite is within two miles of the centre of Kiev, and provides facilities for up to 10,000 Swedish fans to stay.

The FA has no equivalent facility in Ukraine. Miles said that it was an issue of culture. "The Swedes and Dutch have a campsite everywhere. English fans just don't camp in the same way."