Scotland has been allocated just 7,000 tickets for the potentially vital Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar.
With 20,000 fans expected to come to the Algarve from Scotland, the allocation needs to rise as it is unlikely that there are 23,000 Gibraltar fans in existance or willing to take up their allocated places.
Scotland fans’ spokesman Hamish Husband predicted upwards of 20,000 could descend on Portugal’s Algarve for the October 11th game, assuming results go Scotland’s way before then.
Before playing against Gibraltar, Scotland has two matches to play - against Georgia on September 4th and against Germany on September 7th. If these go well for the Scots, the Algarve game assumes a heightened importance and the trickle of fans will turn into a flood.
Husband said he hoped the Scottish Football Association will be able to secure more tickets to meet the demand from Scottish fans as the tie will be the final match in Group D and could be vital to Scotland’s hopes of qualifying for their first major finals since the 1998 World Cup held in France.
Gibraltar, new to the world of competitive internationals, chose to play their home games in the Algarve’s 30,000-seater stadium built for the 2004 European Cup because the Gibraltar home ground is inadequate and does not meets UEFA standards.
Due to tensions between Gibraltar and Spain, the British team travels the 4 hours to the Algarve for its matches, bringing valuable income to the white elephant stadium but have yet to play in front of more than a few thousand supporters, sometime far fewer with the game against Georgia a low point.
Gibraltar’s highest-attended tie so far was against Germany in June when 7,467 supporters saw Gibraltar suffer an expected and sound thrashing of 7-0.
Gibraltar’s match against Poland in the group’s first round of fixtures was watched by just 1,620 fans. In their only other game at the Estádio Algarve, just 600 dogged fans witnessed a 3-0 defeat by Georgia.
Husband has looked at the importance and timing of the Scotland v Gibraltar match and comments,
“I can see 20,000 Scots hitting the Algarve for this one. There are a unique set of circumstances. The game could have a massive bearing on helping us get to France for the Euros.
"The game is taking place during the school mid-term holiday, making it more attractive to many of us. Another factor is the location as the Algarve is a popular holiday destination with many Scots.”
The thought of 20,000 Scots descending on the Algarve brings a smile to the region’s hoteliers, and suppliers of fine ales and spirits but concern to the region's police charged with ensuring everyone’s safety.
Husband added that the limits on ticket numbers holds no fear for Scots who will travel the distance even though they are not guaranteed a seat at the game: he pleads,
“The SFA looks after us wonderfully and I’m sure they’ll do their best to get more tickets for this one.” The local police should be supportive of the Scots getting an increased allocation of tickets as crowd control will be made easier.