Football: Fans may have to buy tickets on black market

A THRIVING black market in tickets for England's Euro 2000 matches appears to be inevitable after Kevin Keegan's side were yesterday drawn to play their Group A games in the relatively small stadiums at Eindhoven and Charleroi. Both have capacities of 30,000 and England supporters will be allocated only 4,800 tickets for each match.

Tickets for the game games against Portugal (in Eindhoven on 12 June) and against Germany and Romania (in Charleroi, on 17 June and 20 June, respectively) will be on sale only to England Travel Club members via the Football Association. The Club has around 30,000 members, and many of them will fail in their attempts to secure seats. Supporters who are not members will have no chance of obtaining seats through official channels.

The FA will release details of the application process later this week, but it is expected that the travel club members who have attended the most away games in the past 18 months will be given priority. There will be no further general ticket sales to members of the public.

Around 400,000 (or 33 per cent) of the 1.2m tickets for Euro 2000 have already been sold on general sale across Europe. Those tickets were made available through the internet and by ballot earlier this year, with the buyers purchasing "blind" in most cases without knowing which teams they would be watching.

Overall, 35 per cent of the tickets will go to the teams competing in each match. However, at the smaller venues (such as Eindhoven and Charleroi), each side's fans will receive 16 per cent of capacity, or 4,800 seats per match in England's case, while at the larger venues, such as Rotterdam (capacity 50,000), each of the competing sides will receive 20 per cent of the capacity (or 10,000 seats).

Aside from the 33 per cent of tickets already sold and the 35 per cent for competing nations, 14 per cent are for sponsors, eight per cent for the media, five per cent for hospitality and five per cent for officials of Uefa (European football's governing body), Fifa (the world authority), and national associations.