In the build up to 2016, London Englandfans will be holding regular football forums on travel, ticketing, security and general football chat. Our forums are currently held at the New Moon pub in Gracechurch Street in the City of London – please feel free to pop down to join us. Joining us for January’s forum we had Owen Gibson from The Guardian and Harpreet Robertson, head of the England Supporters Club.
Owen Gibson – Chief Sports Corrispondant at The Guardian
What do you make of all the goings on at FIFA & UEFA – do you see this effecting the tournament in France?
Platini was hoping to be triumphant in bringing the tournament back to France. It was actually France 98 when Platini and Blatter started to become close and the banning of Platini shows that the corruption crisis in football is not just to do with the rest of the world – Europe is complicit as well.
It’s important to note that the corruption that has been going on at the governing bodies doesn’t necessarily make for a poor tournament – generally the tournament organisers on the ground have still tended to do a good job. However, every time these guys were selling TV contracts under their value, or took over tickets to sell and put that in their own pocket, is money that could have been put to making the ticket prices cheaper or towards football development.
What’s the likelihood of the 2018 World Cup being taken away from Russia, bearing in mind it’s highly likely the vote was corrupt?
It’s extremely unlikely, purely due to the logistics. On the face of it, it seems ridiculous bearing in mind half of their athletes are barred due to doping issues. However, the tournament is two years away and the stadiums are already either built or being built so Russia will keep the competition.
Several fans have raised questions about how England fans are portrayed by the media. Will the Guardian, (or do you know if any of the other national papers) will be sending additional reports to write about the behavior of our fans over in France?
The topic of travelling fans is a less strong point with the papers and less sensationalist than it was back in [lets say] 1998. The British press will take more journalists over to France than previous tournaments in Brazil, South Africa or Ukraine – but mainly because it’s closer and the stories are more attractive with the home nations all in attendance apart from Scotland. The papers will pay attention to the security aspect but in general they hold a more balanced opinion than several years ago.
Would you start Wayne Rooney?
At the moment a team with Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane doesn’t look bad! With Sturridge and Welbeck still to come back the squad certainly seems to have a bit more depth to it that when we approached Brazil.
Who do you think will win the tournament?
France and Germany look good favorites. Belgium look good on paper, however they lack experience of winning at tournaments and the fact they have a lot of premier league players will work against them, the same as it does against England.
What are your expectations for England?
The Quarter finals would be an improvement on Brazil and the Semi’s would be a massive improvement. Anything less than that would be a disappointment.
Do you think the Press will create a fever of expectation, as they often do prior to big tournaments?
There has been a more realistic mood around recent tournaments which has taken a bit of pressure off the players. In the run-up to Brazil, the press possibly talked down our expectations too much. Either way, the lower level of pressure didn’t seem to work in Brazil – it is important to keep an element of excitement to give the team momentum. It’s worth remembering that England are not the only nation who feel the pressure of their fans going into the tournament – think about Brazil at their home last World Cup!
If there is one group we [the media] should talk about getting out of, it has to be this one. It’s also important to remember the press have a commercial element as well – they need to use tournaments to sell papers, but you certainly won’t see the press going overboard as they did with the so called ‘golden generation’.
Harpreet Robertson – Head of the England Supporters Club
The FA recently advised fans to apply for tickets by the 11th January – why have they done this when the dealing is the 18th?
The 11th Jan wasn’t a deadline, but an email to encourage fans not to leave their application until the last minute – the main reason being that if you have any problems with the form the FA won’t be able to assest everyone who leaves it until the morning of the 18th! Here are a couple of pointers for your application:
- Activation Code – This code is provided by UEFA – you’ll need to get this first just so you have an account.
- Access Code – means you’re a travel club member and you can apply for tickets
- For Group bookings it is important to only us one access code (per group of up to four people)
Is it fair to say that you’ll be using the CAP system for each category?
Yes, although the FA doesn’t have visibility of exactly how many tickets are available in each category.
Why has the last 16 game got the lowest amount of available tickets – only 3000?
Because UEFA don’t know which team will be playing in which stadium they have to assign tickets based on allocation for the smallest stadium, which would be 3,000.
What happens if people have different number of caps within a group?
A group will only be split in the instance that one or more member have enough to be guaranteed a ticket. In this instance, the person with enough caps would be allocated a ticket, whilst the other members of the group would be go into a ballot. This means that those with enough caps are not penalised for applying in a group. The remainder of the group would however go into the ballot being treated as a group – either all being allocated a ticket or not.
How will tickets be sent out, providing your applications is successful?
Group tickets will be sent to home address around 2/3 weeks before the tournament.
In previous tournaments, the organisers have only tried once to authorise a credit card before rejecting the application (if the card is rejected) – will the same rules apply this time round?
The FA will attempt to support fans who have any issues with credit card payments. England is one of only around five or six countries who have a loyalty scheme which means the FA have a little more leeway to help in this type of situations.
It is important to make sure the expiry date on the credit card is post August 2016 when UEFA will make refunds for tickets IF we get knocked out.
How long will it take for to hear back on whether you’re successful?
It’s likely to be the end of January or early February – the timescale is dependent on how long UEFA take to provide the FA with information once they have check for things like duplicate entries (eg. if someone has already applied for a ticket directly with UEFA). Some key points worth noting:
- Members should not submit duplicate applications – ie. apply for tickets in more than one group.
- Applications should not include non-members (England supports club).
If you do either of the above your application will be cancelled. Once the application process is complete, the FA will run through the following process:
- Take the top cappers and distribute tickets across the categories.
- Ballot according to rules for the games that are over-subscribed.
You won’t need your credit card to pick up any tickets in France, all tickets post the group stage will be collected from the FA in the usual manor for away games – with your Englansfans membership card or valid photo ID.
What friendlies do England have planned prior to the tournament?
It’s likely that there will be three friendlies: one at Wembley and two in the North of England, although this will be confirmed around mid-February time.