European Cup Qualifier
11.10.2003 at 17:30 - St Jakob Stadium, Basel
The hunt for tickets reached epidemic proportions in Basel yesterday when it became increasingly clear that thousands of Irish supporters had made the trip in the hope of solving their access problems at the last moment.
Fans besieged the FAI's temporary headquarters in the Hilton Hotel in the vain search as officials confirmed they had not been able to increase their allocation of 3,000 tickets for the 30,000 capacity Stadium St. Jakob.
Manager Brian Kerr confirmed that he had been regularly approached by fans whenever he left the hotel and he added: "Even some of my closest friends were afraid to ask me for tickets, everybody was under pressure.
"I've helped out as many people as I can but even last night there must have been 20 people asked me and it is difficult."
Kerr, in a roundabout way, regretted that Ireland could not ensure that more supporters were able to attend. He said: "It is a bit of a change in an away match not to have enough tickets.
"Since I've started the first game we had in Scotland, we had a fair crowd and I was a bit surprised, but it was near. Albania and Georgia was disappointing given that we generally have massive crowds at the away games, in proportion and ratio much above what most countries bring to away games, I think that is fair to say.
"In Albania and Georgia we were down to a few hundred which was understandable at the time. There was a bit of scare-mongering about how difficult it would be for people travelling to Albania and that turned out not to be the case at all.
"I've looked forward to this one in that way, the idea of us bringing a big crowd. I know what it is like when we travel in strength. It is encouraging that so many were prepared to travel without tickets and take the chance on picking one up and I would hope that we would have more than 3,000 in the ground.
"I presume there are no worries about the security of it, the Swiss security people, the police, need have no worries whatever about where our people are going to sit in the ground and whether they can sit beside Swiss people or anything like that.
"They need have absolutely no fears about that whatsoever. Our people will be well behaved in the ground and the suggestion that if they haven't got tickets for the Irish end they should not be allowed in I think that is bunkum.
"Look at some of the stuff in other sports we have in Ireland where we have 60,000 and 70,000 people completely mixed in from four different teams together and there has not been any bother.
"The fans who go to the away games are the ones to whom it means most. They are the ones who spend the money and they want to have a better time and they want to get really stuck into the match.
"And they often better understand how the games work, the intricacies and the balance of the play, and when a team might need you.
"It will come down to how the team plays as well, I'm under no illusions about that, but for the last game of the group it is good to see so many people here."