Vast swathes of empty seats are to be expected at the Aviva Stadium this evening with only 210 Northern Ireland fans expected to attend the clash with Ireland.
Concern had been expressed about potential security issues surrounding tonight’s Carling Nations Cup clash between the two neighbours, particularly as it is in the immediate aftermath of the controversial visit of Queen Elizabeth II to our shores last week.
The FAI and the IFA, in conjunction with the Gardai and the PSNI, have been planning for months to ensure that tonight’s game will go off without a hitch, and it certainly seems as if there will be little chance of trouble from the away support after the IFA revealed the paltry amount of fans travelling south for the game.
Many Northern Ireland fans are expected to boycott the game because of security and segregation while others still were baffled at the decision by the IFA to organise buses costing £30 sterling return, believing that they would be able to make their own way to and from the game at a cost far cheaper than that.
“There are 210 Northern Ireland fans officially travelling to the game,” said an IFA source.
An FAI source, meanwhile, moved to assure fans, particularly those who intend bringing their children along to watch, that there would be no trouble at the game.
“Families should feel completely safe,” said the FAI source.
“We are hoping for a good game because it is a local derby and there should be a fun atmosphere.”
The newly formed competition has failed to catch on with supporters if attendances at games earlier in the season are anything to go by and with Ireland fielding a shadow XI this evening, supporters seem to have little appetite to go along and attend.
The FAI attempted to address the matter earlier last week, by announcing details of a three games for the price of one offer, whereby supporters who purchase a ticket to tonight’s game would be entitled to free entry to the Wales v Scotland and Northern Ireland v Wales encounters.
The FAI are optimistically expecting a crowd of 25,000 for tonight’s game, but a crowd of that number wouldn’t even fill half of the stadium and the atmosphere is likely to suffer as a result.