20,000 Polish fans at Wembley for World Cup showdown
FA forced to increase away allocation in order to maintain segregation of fans
WEMBLEY will be a sell-out for England's crunch World Cup qualifier against Poland on Tuesday, but almost a quarter of the fans inside the stadium will be supporting Poland after the FA expanded the away allocation because of the high demand from ex-pat Poles living in Britain.
More than 20,000 Polish fans are expected at the game, says The Guardian. And it says that the result could be a "hostile atmosphere" for England as they play in front of the largest away support at a competitive game since Wembley was rebuilt.
The FA was forced to increase its allocation of 8,000 tickets for the away team after Polish supporters began buying seats that had gone on general sale, jeopardising efforts to segregate the fans.
In response the FA put aside a further 10,000 seats for away supporters and offered fans the chance to sit in the away section. Those tickets have now sold out but the Polish FA believes that there will still be away fans in other areas.
"There will be at least 20,000 Polish fans," a spokesman told the Guardian. "For a lot of people it's a very special game. It is England and it's a football story. They live in England but the team from the motherland is their country."
It will make for a very different mood to the one inside Wembley on Friday night. The Times notes that fewer than 1,000 tickets were sold to Montenegro supporters for that game.
The paper notes that there have been similarly large away supports in friendly games against Ghana, Scotland and Ireland in recent years. On all those occasions "it was widely felt... that the away team raised their game in a vibrant atmosphere".
There has been criticism of the FA's decision in some quarters, but defender Leighton Baines said he was looking forward to the clash. "If these away fans add to the atmosphere the home fans are going to produce, then it just adds to the occasion," he said. ·