McCarthy handed FA Cup final ticket ban

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Mick McCarthy, the Republic of Ireland manager, was yesterday banned from receiving FA Cup final tickets for 10 years after a Association investigation found that tickets issued to him had ended up on sale on the black market for pounds 350 each.

The action against McCarthy, coming barely a week after the FA published a blacklist of 36 players and officials who passed on Cup final tickets, follows an inquiry by the game's governing body, which was prompted by the findings of trading standards officers from Liverpool who conducted a survey at last year's final between Everton and Manchester United.

Among those the trading watchdogs interviewed were two Norwegians, who were among a party who parted with what the FA described as "huge sums" for tickets. The fans in question had paid pounds 700 for a pair of pounds 60 tickets. The FA was alerted and traced the tickets back first to Millwall and then to McCarthy, who was manager of the First Division club at the time.

An FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "Mick McCarthy told us he had passed on the tickets to an associate at face value, and had made no monetary gain from the transaction, which we accept.

"But he was in breach of the terms and conditions he signed when he received the tickets. They state that tickets should not be passed on, with or without payment, unless you have the prior written consent of your county FA, club or the organisation which made the original allocation.''

McCarthy's embarrassment, and that of his new employers at the FAI in Dublin, will no doubt be acute. There will be red faces, too, at Lancaster Gate, though on this occasion the FA will be glowing with satisfaction at the timing of its pre-emptive strike against touting, which comes less than a month before this year's final between Liverpool and Manchester United.

The FA came under strong pressure from the media and supporters' groups after both FA Cup semi-finals last month played to attendances below capacity amid controversy over high ticket prices. Now it has been able to demonstrate that it does not pay lip service to supporters' complaints.

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