ITAA CEO gives advice to soccer fans planning to go to the Ireland Euro 2016 qualification away days.
Sucker-punch for soccer fans as qualifier away days to cost €2,500
Article taken from The Irish Examiner, written by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith. Monday, February 24, 2014
Irish soccer fans have been warned they face travel price mark-ups and a minimum €2,500 bill if they want to follow the nation’s away-day bid for Euro 2016 qualification.
The draw for the 24-team finals was made yesterday and pitted Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s men against Germany, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, and Gibraltar, the newest member of Uefa.
Under new rules, the top two sides from each group will make it to France in 2016, meaning hope springs eternal for the Irish fan.
The qualifying fixtures have thrown up a few eye-catching away days, with trips to Faro in Portugal, where Gibraltar will play their home games (Friday, September 4, 2015), topping the bill.
Edinburgh in Scotland (Friday, November 14, 2014), Germany (Tuesday, October 14, 2014), and a likely final day showdown with Poland in Warsaw (Sunday, October 11, 2015) are also expected to grab public attention.
However, Irish Travel Agents Association chief Pat Dawson has warned fans that the sudden interest in the destinations means they should expect minimum 20% mark-ups on flights, hotels, and other bills if they decide to dust down their passports.
While all but Georgia away in Tblisi (Sunday, September 7, 2014) will be easy to get to compared to previous campaigns, he said total prices could still hit €2,500 — pushing a five-trip plan out of reach for many households.
“The destinations and dates mean any Irish fan or tourist going on these trips will have fun, there’s no doubt about that, but the downside could be the prices,” Mr Dawson explained.
“The Gibraltar game is probably the most attractive because it’s near the end of the campaign and is right in the holiday season for that time of year. You’ll be talking about late 20s temperatures and a beautiful location.
“That could attract a lot of people who’ll go for the week and get in some golf or a family holiday before the match on the Friday, so it could set you back €500-€600 for that alone. But there’ll be plenty of packages due to the time of year.
“For a group travelling, getting an apartment for five or six people instead of hotels would be the best bet, and there’s plenty of good options in the towns around Faro for that.”
Mr Dawson said the Scotland game is likely to see a sell-out crowd, with anybody venturing to the game advised to go by car and boat instead of plane.
“Going up to Northern Ireland and across could save you a couple of hundred euro; you could go for a weekend to Edinburgh for €200 all included that way,” he said.
Despite relatively easy access to Germany and Poland, Mr Dawson warned that local fan interest — “particularly in Poland where everything will be at stake” — means going to both matches could set supporters back at least €1,100.
However, the away day in Georgia is likely to cost most, with no direct flights to the eastern Europe nation meaning either a specially arranged four-hour charter or a lengthy stopover in another part of the continent.
“Overall, this group is good for the fan and good for the tourist, because we have a decent chance and the countries are interesting places.
“But anyone travelling will need to watch the prices. Don’t expect the airlines and hotels to be in a suddenly generous mood,” he joked.
– Georgia away, Sunday September 7, 2014 (most recent head-to-head results: Ire 4-0 Georgia, Ire 2-1 Georgia)
– Germany away, Tuesday October 14, 2014 (Ire 0-3 Ger, Ire 1-6 Ger)
– Scotland away, Friday November 14, 2014 (Ire 1-0 Scot, Ire 2-0 Scot)
– Gibraltar away, Friday September 14, 2015 (N/A)
– Poland away, Sunday October 11, 2015 (Ire 0-0 Pol, Ire 2-0 Pol)