PSNI have no major concerns over Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 tie with Poland

Nigel Goddard (PSNI), Gary McAllister (NI Supporter) and Jim Shaw (IFA) at The Official Launch of the Northern Ireland Fans' Embassy for Euro 2016 
Cahair O'Kane and Philip Watson

THE PSNI have had discussions with French and Polish authorities over Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 clash with Poland next month, but have “no major concerns” over the tie.

When Northern Ireland and Poland met in Belfast for a World Cup qualifier in March 2009, gangs of Polish football hooligans were blamed for organising violence that occurred around the game.

The return game in Katowice six months later passed off without incident.

With more than 40,000 Northern Ireland fans expected to descend on France, PSNI superintendent Nigel Goddard admitted that the Poland game had been a particular focus, but that they had no major concerns.

“It’s fair to say that the only time there’s been any sort of disorder involving a match Northern Ireland have been playing in was the Poland game in 2009, and that was the Polish fans, not Northern Irish fans.

“I’ve been out to Nice and met with my police counterpart, and we discussed around that piece of history. French police are very aware of the reputation of some Poland fans, and their focus on policing that match will be around policing the risk of Polish supporters.

“We’re aware of the history and issues with some of the Poland fans, as are the French police, so there’s no major concern.

“I’ve had a chat with my Polish police counterpart, and he is not of the opinion that those ‘ultra’ groups will be travelling in big numbers.”

The figure of 40,000 travelling supporters was based on tickets sold for Northern Ireland’s Group C fixtures with Poland, Ukraine and world champions Germany.

Around 9,000 have been sold so far for NI’s opener in Nice, with another 15,000 bought for the match in Lyon and 12,000 for the trip to Paris.

Families and supporters travelling over to soak up the atmosphere and attend the fan parks are expected to boost the travelling numbers.

Chairman of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, Gary McAllister, said fans should be in good spirit for Northern Ireland’s debut European Championships.

“Our message is simple, go along, enjoy the football and have a good time”, he said.

AONISC has also provided 6,000 copies of a ‘Northern Ireland Fans Guide to France’ for anybody travelling to France, which are being distributed in 35 cities, towns and villages throughout the country.

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