Fears that this summer's finals in South Africa will be one of the worst attended in recent history heightened yesterday when it was revealed that England fans have not taken up 6,000 of the 29,000 World Cup tickets allocated by organisers to the FA for the official supporters' club.
The FA confirmed that almost all England fans will receive tickets for the games they applied for – but a number of tickets will be returned to the organisers. Around half of the 6,000 returned tickets relate to a possible third or fourth place play-off appearance by England. Fifa insist that many England fans will have bought tickets via general distribution and say they are not worried about overall sales. Only one match has been oversubscribed by members of the official supporters' group, englandfans, the last 16 match, should England qualify, and the FA say they are hopeful of securing the 150 outstanding tickets. A Fifa spokesman said details of all sales would be announced by next week. Germany and the Netherlands have recently disclosed poor sales figures to their fans.
Two-game touchline ban for Holloway
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has been given a two-game touchline ban following an FA Regulatory Commission hearing. The 46-year-old has been punished regarding his breach of an FA misconduct rule during the Seasiders' recent FA Cup tie against Ipswich. He has also been fined £2,400 and warned over his future conduct. Holloway was sent to the stands during the 2-1 defeat against the Tractor Boys for remonstrating with the fourth official. He will now be forced to oversee the games against Watford today and Coventry next weekend from the stands.
Baggies strike one-off shirt sponsorship deal
West Bromwich Albion have struck a one-game sponsorship deal with locally-based shop-fitting and interior company esprit UK, for the non-televised FA Cup visit of Newcastle this afternoon. Esprit are the third company to take the Baggies up on the ground-breaking match-by-match sponsorship deal, which also saw the club donate the advertising space on thier shirts to the Disasters Emergency Committee's Haiti Earthquake Appeal when they faced Newcastle United on Monday.
Former England man Ricketts looks for club
The former England international Michael Ricketts has been released from his contract at Tranmere Rovers. The 31-year-old forward, who made one appearance for the Three Lions against the Netherlands in 2002, joined the club on a one-year deal in August, but has not started since November and has made eight starts all season. "Michael felt he needed regular football," manager Les Parry said, "so we've given him the chance to join another club."