Today I bring you the second instalment in our Euro 2012 travel plans. If you missed the first one, check it out – 2012: A European Championship Odyssey
Now that the dates and locations of Ireland’s fixtures at Euro 2012 were known, the priority became procuring tickets to at least one of Ireland’s matches. As I quickly discovered, however, Willy Wonka’s golden tickets seemed positively plentiful compared to this. An initial ticket lottery had been conducted through the UEFA website months before the draw, so (inexplicably, in my mind) thousands of tickets had been sold with the recipients having no idea of which teams they would actually be watching! The initial thought behind this, I imagine, was that fans in the host nations would buy up the available tickets in their area so that they could enjoy the carnival of football coming to their country, and this is fair enough. In reality, a lot of tickets will have been snapped up by scalpers knowing they could sell them for many times the price over the internet or to fans turning up on the night of the match hoping to pick one up. Surely a better system must be possible.
The allocation of tickets given to the participating nations was never going to satisfy the demand. Irish fans traditionally travel en masse to major tournaments, bringing a sea of green to wherever they lay their big Guinness hats marking their temporary home. The FAI (Football Association of Ireland) operates a system where fans who have attended a number of qualifying matches are entitled to first option on their supply of tickets. This is entirely correct; those who have made the effort to travel to Andorra, Macedonia, Estonia et al deserve to enjoy the fruits of the team’s labour. Given that I did not qualify under this system, I was going to have to source my own tickets. Enter the dreaded UEFA ticket portal!
The ticket portal was a central point forthe fans mentioned above who had blindly secured tickets through the earlier lottery to re-sell unwanted tickets at face value. Of course, UEFA enjoyed a nice little earner on this system by doubling up their handling fees for essentially the same tickets… The initial purchaser paid the fee as did the new buyer at resale! Understandably, following the draw, the traffic to the site caused it to run at a snail’s pace. Hundreds of thousands of fans clambered for whatever available tickets appeared and you had to be quicker on the draw than Clint Eastwood if you were to snag that elusive ticket.
Having logged-in at least 20 times a day for a fortnight (work productivity was at an all-time low!), I had seen just one ticket for an Ireland game appear, and that disappeared before you could say Phil Babb! Then one day came the holy grail… tickets for Ireland vs. Croatia appeared on the site. The only pause for thought was that they were €120 a piece… plus handling fees! Two tickets were going to cost €284! Of course, this pause for thought was momentary and before you could say Ooh Aah Paul McGrath, credit card details were entered and I am now the proud owner of two tickets for the Croatia game in Poznan on June 10th! Subsequent visits to the portal show that many people are as reluctant to travel to Ukraine as I was – tickets for the Poland-based matches are as rare as hens’ teeth, while an ample supply of tickets for the games in Kiev and Donetsk remain available. Either way, this June 10th I’ll finally get to realise a dream by watching the boys in green at a major championship. 137 days to go… not that I’m counting!
I had intended to discuss travel plans in this post but got carried away on the ticket tirade! Next up, leaving the Honda at home, and the ever-changing route map!
Read part 3 here!