The Football Association defends decision to sell 18,000 tickets to Poland fans for crucial World Cup qualifier

Polish fans will be out in force on Tuesday night. Photo: PA

The Football Association has defended its decision to sell 18,000 tickets to Poland fans for Tuesday's crunch game at Wembley.

Under FIFA rules, visiting teams are allowed 10 per cent of the seats available in qualification matches.

Given that Wembley holds 90,000, that entitles Poland to 9,000 tickets but the FA has decided to give the Poles 18,000.

Given the huge importance of Tuesday's game, the decision has drawn criticism from some supporters but the organisation says it had to increase the away allocation as it feared Polish fans would end up causing a health and safety risk by buying tickets in the home section.

"The FA, working with the Polish FA, have provided 18,000 tickets to Polish supporters," an FA spokesman said.

"With high demand for tickets from the large Polish community in England the FA took the decision, based on safety grounds, to ensure Polish fans were allocated space in a specific area of the ground rather than attempting to buy tickets in home areas.

"Tickets in the home areas have been restricted to previous buyers only, with no tickets now remaining for this fixture.

"This is the same process that was employed for the successful Scotland and Republic of Ireland fixtures earlier this year."

A Polish Football Association spokesman was quoted in several media outlets as saying he expected 20,000 away fans to attend, but the FA insists the number of tickets sold to Poles is 18,000.

It is understood that the FA took the decision to double the Polish allowance in consultation with the police.

England left-back Leighton Baines has no problem with the move.

"If it adds to the atmosphere, it is great," the Everton defender said.

"I remember when we played Ghana - and I don't know how many there were there - they were amazing and it just made it better.

"If these away fans add to the atmosphere the home fans are going to produce, then it just adds to the occasion."

England must win their final Group H match to qualify for Brazil 2014. If they do not, then a tricky playoff awaits them.

Poland are already out of the running for qualification following a defeat to Ukraine last Friday and Baines concedes the visitors could be given a slight lift by the presence of so many of their own fans.

"It could work in that manner, but to put a more positive spin on it you'd rather play in a stadium with a good atmosphere rather than it be a half-empty stadium," the 28-year-old said.

"It is not the norm. When we go out at Goodison Park normally we see a certain section for the away fans and the rest is for the home fans.

"I am not sure what the thinking is behind it, but to be honest it is the first I have heard of it."