Phantom tickets will lock out fans

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THOUSANDS OF Scottish fans arriving in Paris today and tomorrow for the opening match of the World Cup may find themselves barred from the ground because their pre-paid tickets do not exist.

Several travel agents in Scotland are said to be trying frantically to contact fans who have bought World Cup packages from them to break the news that the tickets are not going to materialise when they try to collect them in France.

One travel agent, Kelvin Travel in Glasgow, admitted that of 960 packages it has sold in good faith, it is having to cancel 640 because the company due to supply the tickets had not delivered them. It refused to name the firm, but it is believed to be in the United States.

A spokesman for Kelvin Travel, which the Association of British Travel Agents confirmed had not acted illegally, said yesterday he had 40 staff on the telephone from dawn until dusk trying to trace fans who had purchased the packages to tell them they would not be getting their stadium tickets.

"There are a lot of travel agents in Scotland in the same position but we decided to put our hands up and come clean. Everyone affected in this way will get a full refund," he promised. Those affected are those who decided, against the advice of the Scottish Football Association, to buy tickets from unofficial outlets, such as Kelvin Travel, instead of going through the SFA itself or their approved agencies.

The SFA official ticket allocation for the Scotland-Brazil game, which includes the lavish opening ceremony, was 5,000 out of 80,000.

Last week, in a separate case, a London-based company, Great Portland Entertainments Ltd, was closed down by the Department of Trade and Industry. The company had taken more than pounds 2.4m in payments for World Cup tickets but many people claimed they had not received them.

n It was announced yesterday that the Prince of Wales, his son Prince Harry, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, Prince Edward, and Peter Phillips, son of the Princess Royal, would be attending the England and Scotland matches during the opening rounds of the tournament.

World Cup , pages 28- 32