How did trouble-makers get into the stadium? i

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The focus of the Football Association's inquiry into the violence at Lansdowne Road will centre on how up to 4,000 supporters were able to get into a section of the stand for which only 1,600 tickets were officially sold by the FA.

England received 3,305 tickets for the game. Those unsold were returned to the Football Association of Ireland: 1,185 on 2 February, 236 on the day before the game and the remainder on the day of the game.

The question the authorities in Ireland and England were demanding a swift answer to last night was how tickets got into the hands of those who were out to make trouble and who had not applied through the England Travel Club.

"Our early information is that up to 4,000 England fans were in the ground," said the FA's spokeswoman, Claire Tomlinson. "We must discover how and where they received their tickets. In addition, when they received their tickets they were warned they should carry their club cards because they were liable to have to present them with their tickets when they passed through the turnstiles.

"Obviously in some cases that did not happen and just why we will hope will become clear when the inquiry is complete."

It is possible some fans got in without tickets, possibly by bribing gatemen. Some would have bought tickets from touts either in this country or in Dublin.

Since its formation in November 1989 the Travel Club has been the only official source of tickets for England away games. To become a member, fans have to include details of the club they support, their season ticket number as well as their passport number.

In addition, they have to declare that they have not been convicted of a football-related offence. For away games members are restricted to one ticket per person.

It is possible some of those responsible for Wednesday's violence were Travel Club members, in which case they would be expelled. Last night the FA appealed to those who can identify offenders from newspaper and television pictures to contact them on a special freephone line - 0800 515495.

Officials say a sophisticated form of ticketing will help prevent trouble occurring during the Euro '96 championships. No ticket will be issued until three weeks before a game and every purchaser will have his name printed on the ticket.

"With the data base of known hooligans and known criminals, we will be able to vet everyone who applies for a ticket," said Glen Kirton, the Euro '96 director. "With our close-circuit cameras we will be able to zoom in on any person in any seat at any ground during the tournament and we will know who that person is. Furthermore, nobody will have more than four tickets so it will not be possible for people to congregate in groups like we saw in Dublin."

There will be 1.3 million tickets available for the June tournament with 7,000 tickets available to each of the 15 qualifying countries for each of their games, which will take place at eight venues around the country.