Northern Ireland to allow more than 1,000 fans Euro 2020 play-off against Slovakia

The Irish FA has announced that Northern Ireland will allow 1,060 fans in to Windsor Park for next week’s Euro 2020 qualifying play-off final against Slovakia. Last month, IFA chief executive believed that 600 to 1,000 fans could be safely accommodated in the National Stadium following previous home match which saw 600 fans attended in 1-0 home defeat against Austria in the Nations League.

“We have worked closely with the Minister for Communities, Caral Ni Chuilin, and her officials, as well as the team at Belfast City Council, to land on this number,” Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said. The play-off final match is the first of two home games in the venue for Northern Ireland, who is also set to host Romania in the Nations League on November 18.

“Our own staff have also played a significant role in this and we’re delighted to have fans back at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, in a safe and responsible setting, for one of our biggest games in recent times.” Reports said that tickets will be allocated via a ballot, with those successful to be notified ahead of the match next week.

Last month, UEFA confirmed that fans were to be allowed at European club and national team competition matches, at up to 30% of stadium capacity, where local authorities allow.However, with the spike of infection in Europe, some leagues have decided to proceed with sporting activities behind closed doors. Ian Baraclough’s side will also travel to Vienna to face Austria on November 15.

Penalty shootouts decided both games in Path B of the Euro 2020 playoffs semi-finals, with Northern Ireland winning one and Republic of Ireland losing. Despite keeping their Euro berth alive, Ian Baraclough’s have now lost seven of their eight UEFA Nations League matches following the 1-0 lost to Norway earlier this month. Northern Ireland will host Slovakia on November 12.

Four nations will qualify for Euro 2020 as the play-offs finalconclude on Nov. 12. The winner will join a Euro 2020 group with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria. Games will be played in Amsterdam and Bucharest. Euro 2020, originally scheduled for June 12-July 12, was pushed back 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is now due to be held from June 11-July 11 next year.