Ireland’s Euro 2020 playoff confirmed for Bratislava
Following the completion of the renovation of Bratislava’s National Football Stadium (or the Tehelné pole stadium), the Slovakia FA verified that Ireland will play the Euro 2020 playoff semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava.
The Slovaks haven’t used the newly-revamped stadium since 2015 because there was ongoing work on the ground. Instead, they played all their qualifier matches in Trnava, a city that is approximately 50 km from Bratislava.
Many had supposed that Trnava could host the game. Perhaps, concerns over low attendance at some Trnava games and inadequate corporate and media facilities played a role in the change of the venue.
Slovakia FA was convinced that all will go well at the new stadium after the Slovaks played there against Paraguay in a friendly game back in October and conducted a trial run. Although the venue has been open since summer, the Slovaks have only used it once.
All is now set for the 26th March game between Ireland and Slovakia at the 22,500-seater pitch located in the country’s capital city.
According to UEFA guidelines, Ireland fans will be given a minimum of 1,125 tickets, which accounts for 5% of the minimum allocation. However, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is intending to negotiate in the hope of getting more than that.
In the past, Irish fans have enjoyed up to 10% ticket allocation for the venue. This would bring the total number of tickets to 2,250. At last month’s Euro 2020 draw, Donal Conway, the outgoing FAI president, said that the association was set to negotiate.
Conway said that although the requirement is that they give Ireland only 5% of the tickets, conversations were underway seeking to secure more. However, he was quick to point out that it was not their obligation to offer Ireland more, and that’s the reason for the negotiations.
Conway added that some teething difficulties could have accounted for the change since Tehelné pole is a new pitch.
Meanwhile, recent reports from the Oireachtas indicate the presence of fears that Ireland could forfeit the Slovakia match in case the bankrupt FAI goes into liquidation. That would mean the national association will instantly lose its membership in UEFA and be unable to play any level of international games.
The winner of the March 26 game will face either Northern Ireland or Bosnia and Herzegovina in the March 31 deciding playoff match.
Ireland did not get an automatic qualification for next summer’s Euro tournament.