Irish switch has their fans smiling

The nightmare travel logistics facing England fans at Euro 2012 contrast with the lot of Irish supporters, whose planning has been made a lot easier by a change of training camp.

The Football Association of Ireland are taking advantage of England’s group opponents  Sweden — who booked bases in Ukraine and Poland — giving up their option in Gdansk, where the Irish will now have their team headquarters and play their showcase group game against Spain.

There are direct flights as well as established ferry routes between Ireland and the Polish port, with the possibility of cruise ships adding to the accommodation choices for the Irish.

Party time: Ireland beat Estonia to qualify for Euro 2012

Party time: Ireland beat Estonia to qualify for Euro 2012


Meanwhile, an unfinished campsite with room for 6,000 fans six miles outside Donetsk is being recommended as the best bet for England fans wanting to stay anywhere near the location of two England group games.

The FA are adamant the team will commute to Ukraine from their Polish base in Krakow even though the best training facilities in Donetsk are now available since Croatia will play all their matches in Poland.

The dependence on hiring charter planes during the far-flung tournament won’t worry the wealthy FA. But UEFA’s contribution of €40,000 a match for airline travel won’t cover the cost of the best aircraft and the safety worry is that the less well-off countries — and fans — might risk flying in poorly maintained planes.

Republic of Ireland representatives were joking after the draw in Kiev that they would ask Roy Keane to check out the quality of their training facilities in Poland.

Keane famously stormed out of the Irish camp on the Pacific island of Saipan before the 2002 World Cup because he believed team preparation under Mick McCarthy was sub-standard.

An FA selection panel will interview those on the shortlist for the two independent director positions next week before making recommendations at the December 21 board meeting. The decision not to pay for such  high-profile work has astonished the sports industry.

The FA say they have lost only one applicant because of the salary issue, although the job advert made no mention of money either way — and perversely those on the FA recruitment group have paid non-executive directorships themselves.

Currying favour: Michel Platini

Currying favour: Michel Platini

FA backing Platini

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s  latest rant claiming England still hold a massive grudge against him following the 2018 World Cup vote explains why the FA, in their  strategy to improve international relations, are targeting all their efforts on UEFA and FIFA president-in-waiting Michel Platini rather than Blatter and his rogues’ gallery.

Blackett's dubious excuse

RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett was said to be too ill to attend the council meeting on Friday, when he would have faced a barrage of criticism over QC Charles Flint’s independent findings into Blackett’s flawed report into the sacking of former CEO John Steele. Yet the armed services judge had remarkably recovered enough to take his seat in the Royal Box at Twickenham the next day for the Heroes Rugby Challenge.

UEFA’s three wise men

UEFA will make sure there are no conflicts of interest around Wayne Rooney’s appeal in Nyon on Thursday against his three-match  Euro 2012 ban.

The three-strong commission drawn from their appeals body will not include England’s Barry Bright nor the representatives from Euro group opponents Ukraine, France and Sweden, or Spain, potential quarter-final rivals.

In the dock: Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic

In the dock: Wayne Rooney was sent off for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic

German confidence is sky high

Such is the confidence of the Germans doing well at Euro 2012 that they were concerned at their 2014 World Cup qualifying fixtures meeting to make sure their schedule didn’t impact on their preparation for the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, in which the winners of the European Championship represent UEFA.

Security fears in Ukraine

Security is such an issue in Euro 2012 host country Ukraine that president Viktor Yanukovych only decided to attend the draw in Kiev less than an hour before the start. Yanukovych gave his address in person, but a video speech had been prepared in case he didn’t show.

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