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Mar 2, 2011

Welsh FA apologise for ticket fiasco

The Welsh FA has apologised and expressed its regret over a hugely damaging and embarrassing error which has forced the FA to ask England fans to return 951 tickets for this month's Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff.

The tickets were part of an additional allocation of 1,500 for the Millennium Stadium encounter issued in February which sold out within four hours. It has now been discovered that the majority of these tickets were only released because of an administrative error and should not have been sold at all.

Despite extensive efforts to try to resolve the situation, the FA have been left with no alternative other than to write to the supporters concerned, confirming that refunds will be made, both for the tickets and any delivery charge incurred.

"It is with regret that I must confirm that the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has had to reduce the allocation of tickets for the Wales v England match on Saturday March 26,'' said FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford.

"The reason for this reduction is that the total tickets that the Football Association of Wales understood could be made available for sale was incorrect. On behalf of the Football Association of Wales, I would like to apologise unreservedly for the disappointment this will cause.''

The FA have been left powerless because spaces within the stadium simply do not exist. The FAW have also admitted the problem is not exclusive to England fans and a number of Welsh supporters will be in exactly the same position.

They have been left in the uncomfortable position of only being able to confirm that the original 7,500 tickets that were sold through the 'englandfans loyalty scheme' will be honoured and with the additional 549 that have remained, the overall number is above the 10% quota laid down by UEFA as a minimum requirement.

It hardly points towards a smooth administrative process on Wales' part and has left the FA fuming as they will be the ones having to deal with supporter frustration at a totally needless blunder.

"The FA shares the disappointment fans will feel at being let down for this crucial match,'' said the FA in their lengthy letter to fans, outlining the seriousness of the problem.

Football Supporters' Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke called for fans to be compensated rather than simply refunded. He said: "It is a pretty deplorable situation and we would want to have discussions urgently with the FA about what approach they are going to (take) for this and in what ways they might compensate those affected.''

As for whether it is the English or Welsh association who will take responsibility for compensating those affected, Clarke said: "That is really a matter for them to sort out themselves. I don't think the fans will be particularly interested in that issue. I'm sure privately the FA will be having words with the Welsh FA anyway about that point.

"I think they should have some additional form of compensation for this mistake because it's very annoying to be told you've been successful in getting a ticket and then have that taken away from you. This will be a very, very high-demand game for obvious reasons.

A spokesman for the Football Association of Wales said: "Many more Welsh supporters have been disappointed because there has been a huge demand for this game. We sold out very quickly and could have sold a lot more. Our last crowd was just over 14,000 and this is quite extraordinary, even for a game against England.''

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