Europa League: Wolves 'behind closed doors' game set for 21,000 fans

Slovan Bratislava
Slovan Bratislava celebrate a goal during their Europa League Group K game with Besiktas

Wolverhampton Wanderers will play in front of 21,000 'home' fans at Slovan Bratislava in their Europa League game - despite it being behind closed doors.

Uefa punished Slovan for racist chants by fans at a play-off against PAOK of Greece in August.

Slovan were banned from selling tickets for the match on 24 October but instead gifted them to local football clubs and schools - thanks to a Uefa loophole.

Just 200 Wolves fans with 'category one' tickets are allowed into the game.

Under Article 73 of Uefa's regulations, accompanied children, aged 14 and under, from local schools and football academies can be invited.

Slovan placed a notice on their website requesting applications for places at the Group K match. The regulations' reference to "accompanied children" means that one adult will be admitted for every 10 youngsters.

It is understood the majority of the crowd will be under-14s but most are expected to be supporting the Bratislava-based side.

Article 73 also states 'a maximum of 200 people holding category one tickets from the visiting club or association and a maximum of 20 VIP guests' will also be allowed to watch the game - and so that will be the limit of Wolves' support inside the ground.

Uefa ruled in August that Slovan must play two European games in an empty stadium as a consequence of racist chanting and banners during the Europa League play-off match against PAOK.

Slovan appealed against the punishment but this was dismissed by Uefa on 9 October, meaning their game against Wolves would be covered by the sanction, which also included a 91,750 euro (£79,897) fine, part of which was for a lack of organisation at the PAOK game.

Uefa's penalty was designed in part to punish Slovan financially; as no-one will pay for their tickets at the Wolves game.

Wolves are currently third, with three points from two games in Group K. Slovan Bratislava top the group with four points, ahead of Braga on goal difference.

Analysis

There will be a degree of frustration among Wolves supporters about this - if not about the potential disadvantage it may provide on the field by playing in front of a full "home" crowd, then more so the fact that the club's ticket allocation would surely have been greater had the match been played without crowd restrictions.

This is still all very new for a generation of Wolves fans, who were not around when the club last appeared in European competition in 1980 and are desperate for the chance to follow their club on the continent.

At the time of the draw in August, it was common knowledge that the Bratislava game was very likely to be played behind closed doors. That led many, including myself, to opt for an alternative venue for an away trip during the group phase.

Despite the club asking supporters not to book accommodation and flights for the Slovan game until the appeal process was completed, I have heard plenty of anecdotal stories of people who are making the trip simply for the experience - even if only 200 of them will make it into the stadium for the match itself.

BBC Sport's Phil Cartwright

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