Dire opponents cannot stop Wembley sell-out for England v San Marino
It was marketed as "the one you can't afford to miss" and 90,000 have taken the Football Association at its word; tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier against the worst team in the world is a sell-out.
The FA has not had its troubles to seek in recent weeks but a keenly priced and well-targeted campaign enabled the governing body to announce yesterday that the ground will be full for the visit of San Marino – it will see the world's 207th-ranked team play in front of a crowd three times the size of the republic's population. For all the furore surrounding John Terry, Ashley Cole and England's stuttering form, the national team remain an attraction that the rest of Europe can only envy.
A crowd of 68,000 watched England's previous game at Wembley against Ukraine and although that was the largest for a World Cup qualifier that night, it disappointed the FA. A post-Olympic lull was suggested as one reason but the governing body has used the Games as part of their campaign to attract fans to Wembley. Eight thousand volunteers, Games Makers, were given a promotional offer of £20.12 a ticket.
Pricing has proved key, particularly for families. A new record of 22,000 family tickets have been sold. A parent can bring two children for around £50 – the same price as a single ticket for a seat at many Premier League grounds. The lure of seeing Premier League stars such as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard in the flesh – no matter the opponents – remains a notable pull.
"It is a great tribute to the magnificent support the national team enjoys in this country," said manager Roy Hodgson. "It has a terrific impact on players to have a passionate home support turning out."
Tomorrow night's match, against a side ranked level with Bhutan, is the last to be played at Wembley in 2012. Next year is the FA's 150th anniversary and a series of high-profile friendly games will sell out – against Brazil in February before the Republic of Ireland and Scotland visit in the summer.
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Tears and cheers as David Beckham ends glittering career after helping PSG to final win
Video: Emotional David Beckham leaves the pitch for 'the last time' with PSG
Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini has pedigree to be success story at Manchester City
Tottenham face nail-biting finish as Arsenal look to secure Champions League place on final day of the Premier League season
Boxing: Carl Froch slams fellow Brits for sparring with Mikkel Kessler
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron at war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.