UEFA has said the multi-million-euro ticketing deal between the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and an unlicensed hospitality firm is “not permitted.”
The governing body of European football has voiced its concerns about the FAI’s agreement with Marcus Evans Ltd (MEL), stating it is investigating the deal.
The partnership, which was signed in April 2010 by former FAI chief executive John Delaney, covered the 2012 European Championship and other UEFA tournaments including the Champions League final.
Delaney, who stepped down from his post in March this year, is on gardening leave from the FAI during investigations into the association’s financial dealings. He continues to hold a position within the UEFA Executive Committee.
UEFA said on Friday, according to The Sunday Times, that it was “closely monitoring the situation.”
The €2.5m (£2.2m/$2.8m), five-year deal with MEL gave the company exclusive rights to sell restaurant seats at the Aviva Stadium and all corporate box seats at a price to be determined by MEL.
The FAI also agreed to provide the Barbados-based firm with 1,000 tickets for the 2011 Europe League final at the Dublin stadium, including 635 restaurant-section seats.
MEL was also offered the opportunity to purchase up to 25 per cent of any ticket allocation the FAI received for any FIFA World Cup or European Championship finals involving the Republic of Ireland senior national team, subject to UEFA and FIFA agreement.
The FAI said it would use “best endeavours to provide MEL with an option to purchase tickets at face value for UEFA European Championships, Champions League final competitions and World Cups”.
The Sunday Times uncovered the terms of the agreement and in a response the governing body said: “Based on our records and current staff’s recollection of events from that time, we don’t believe this agreement between the FAI and Marcus Evans Ltd was brought to UEFA’s attention.”
UEFA claims it had no relationship with MEL or associated companies. It added: “The activities of the Marcus Evans group of companies in relation to UEFA’s events have, in fact, been a cause of great concern to UEFA for a number of years, and UEFA has issued legal proceedings against certain of the Marcus Evans group of companies in relation to the unauthorised sale of hospitality packages.”
The European governing body said that while each association was entitled to request a specified number of tickets for its club competition finals and the European Championship, the tickets were not intended to be sold on to third parties, but for internal use and invited guests only.
UEFA added: “UEFA issues such tickets subject to strict terms and conditions which prohibit their unauthorised resale or use in unauthorised hospitality packages. As such, agreements such as this are not permitted by UEFA.”