Uefa reveal strict Euro 2012 ticket limit of just 5,000

 

England and Republic of Ireland fans will get just 5,000 official tickets for Euro 2012 quarter-finals and semi-finals should their teams make it that far.

England will discover their fate in today's draw, with Spain, Holland, France and Portugal highlighted by manager Fabio Capello as teams to avoid. Ireland are happy to be in the draw, having had to win a play-off against Estonia, and going beyond the group stage would be a triumph.

Normally, UEFA reserve 20% of stadium capacity for each competing nation.

However, in recognising the logistical difficulties in getting around two large countries, where the transport network is not as sophisticated as that in western Europe, the continental governing body has opted to reduce numbers.

"We have reduced the capacity of supporters to 5,000 each," confirmed Martin Kallen, UEFA's operations director for Euro 2012.

"It makes it easier logistically than when we have 20% of the capacity for each finalist.

"With England there is not this problem but some countries do not have as many supporters and we want to give local people a chance to ensure we have full stadiums."

It means around 1,000 fewer tickets will be available than would normally be anticipated for such showpiece occasions.

Indeed, travelling could turn into a trial for fans wanting to see the semi-finals, the first time when teams who will have played exclusively in one country could find themselves having to go to the other.

Road signage is a specific issue in Ukraine, with many signs currently in Cyrillic only, although Kallen insists this will be rectified by next summer.

Considering there was a threat to strip the country of half its games and the final at one point, so far behind in construction did they fall, it is with some relief Kallen is now able to reflect on tournament planning that is virtually on schedule.

"We came a long way in the past three or four years and it has been a very interesting last 12 months. Now we are in good shape," he said.

"Maybe we thought we might not be as far (along) as we are now. But I have been in this business for a long time.

"It is always a struggle. It is nothing new."

Having spent an estimated 29 billion euros between them, Ukraine and Poland have invested big money to host the first major football tournament in eastern Europe.

And while the financial crisis now engulfing Europe may affect the numbers who eventually travel, Kallen feels those who make the effort will be pleasantly surprised.

"It is somewhere you might not go without football, so it is an experience and a chance to explore new territories," he said.

"Both countries are very welcoming. It is good for European football."

PA

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