England v Poland: FA defend 18,000 ticket allocation for away fans at Wembley
Visiting fans will make up 20 per cent of those inside the stadium for the World Cup qualifier
Monday 14 October 2013
The Football Association insists it has opted to hand Poland an enormous 18,000 ticket allocation for Tuesday's Wembley encounter with England for security reasons.
As the fixture had not sold out by Friday, and fearing many Polish supporters would attempt to gain access to areas reserved for home fans, the FA took the decision to double the visitors' allocation to 20 per cent of the stadium's capacity.
"From the very start the interest from Polish fans was absolutely vast," FA head of communications Scott Field told talkSPORT.
"We had great demand for tickets from them and what we needed to ensure with our strategy was that Polish fans didn't have the opportunity to buy in the home ends.
"It was something we had to guard against and so therefore it was decided that, with a slightly larger allocation, we would be able to accommodate them in one area and stop away fans buying in the home ends."
Nevertheless, the decision has been criticised by some former players, who believe it hands Poland an additional incentive to deny England the victory they need to book an automatic slot at next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.
Security around the game was always likely to be tight anyway.
When Poland took on England in an under-19s international at Crewe in March 2012, trouble flared inside the stadium.
There will be a far greater police presence on this occasion though and having given Poland so many tickets, the Football Association is confident the fixture will pass off peacefully.
"It is the biggest stadium in the country and it can cope with the capacity," said Field.
"We think it will make for a great atmosphere.
"Wembley is often accused of not having a good atmosphere at times and I think we are set for what will be a really rousing game."
England manager Roy Hodgson accepted the ticket allocation could help Poland in the match, but understood the reasons behind it.
He said: "I presume they would rather play in front of 18,000 than hardly any at all like we've had to do sometimes away from home and Montenegro had to do the other day, but there are a lot of Polish people living in this country and I understand the FA was virtually forced into this situation because of concerns over safety problems with the infiltration of Polish fans into the English fans.
"Our players are pretty used to playing in matches where the opponents have a large number of fans, but I think 65-70,000 versus 20,000 is a pretty good margin for us and if our fans get behind us like they've done before I don't fear that."
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