Joining the club still no guarantee of a ticket

Unaffiliated supporters of England and Republic of Ireland need to act quickly if they want a seat
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The Independent Football

The World Cup ticket bureau (www.fifa-tickets.com) is one of two ways you can still buy seats through official channels for next year's tournament. The other is via the national associations of the competing countries. Neither offers any guarantee of securing a seat, but you need to apply soon to stand a chance.

The World Cup ticket bureau ( www.fifa-tickets.com) is one of two ways you can still buy seats through official channels for next year's tournament. The other is via the national associations of the competing countries. Neither offers any guarantee of securing a seat, but you need to apply soon to stand a chance.

If you choose to make an application through the Fifa bureau, you need to do so before 15 January. It is possible, according to the website, to request single matches or series of seats for a particular team or venue. This was not possible at times over the weekend, although a Fifa spokesman said the system should be functioning fully from now on.

Over-subscription for all England and Republic of Ireland games is certain. A ballot on 31 January will decide how the seats are allocated. Prices range from £40 to £100 for group matches. Second-round prices range from £67 to £150 per seat, the quarter-finals cost from £83 to £200, the semi-finals £117 to £330 and the final £200 to £500.

To apply for tickets for England games via the Football Association, you need to be a member of the revamped supporters' club, englandfans. The FA will receive around eight per cent of each stadium's capacity, which equates to around 5,000 tickets for England's opener against Sweden in Urawa, 3,400 for the Argentina game in Sapporo and 4,000 for the game with Nigeria in Osaka.

There are 18,000 members of englandfans already, although the FA estimates that a maximum of 50 per cent of members will be applying for World Cup seats. Membership costs £20 per year, or £10 for juniors. You can request an application form via the website, via email, by post or by phone. You must be a registered member before the end of this month to apply for tickets. A ballot, in late January or early February, will decide who gets the available tickets.

The englandfans club has a stringent screening policy. The FA seeks permission to run a security check into every applicant's background. Anyone with a violent or public order offence on their record, even if it has nothing to do with football, will be refused admission to englandfans.

The FA will be selling travel packages to supporters who have tickets purchased via official routes. Prices have yet to be fixed, but an estimate for a hotel-based stay could see costs of £3,000 for the whole tournament, plus tickets (£600 to £1,500 for a run to the final, depending on the seats). The FA expects many of its experienced travelling fans to make independent arrangements, and cut costs by camping, using youth hostels and pooling mini-bus or car hire when in Japan. England play all their games in Japan, however far they progress.

Supporters of the Republic of Ireland are likely to have no more than a slim chance of getting tickets through their FA if they are not already members of the official supporters group. It already has 6,000 members and a waiting list of more than 200. A majority of the members apply to travel to all away games, so allocations for next year are likely to be spoken for before they even become available. There is no fee for applying to join or go on the waiting list.

TICKET APPLICATIONS

ENGLAND FANS

By phone: 020 7745 4705

By post: englandfans, The Football Association, 25 Soho Square, London W1D 4FA

Internet: www.the-fa.org
E-mail: englandfans@the-fa.org

FA OF IRELAND OFFICIAL CLUB WAITING LIST

By post: FAI, 80 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland

Internet: www.fai.ie
E-mail: marybyrne@fai.ie

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