Queue-jump fans can keep tickets, court rules

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The Independent Online
FURTHER CHAOS engulfed ticket sales for the Scotland-England Euro 2000 play-off yesterday when a court ruled that council workers could keep the tickets they bought using internal telephone lines.

Glasgow City Council had earlier promised that the tickets for the match in the city on 13 November, bought by 250 staff who successfully jumped the telephone queue for the sales hotline, would be returned to the Scottish Football Association. The council, which ran the hotline for the SFA, had been holding back at least 500 tickets from employees.

However, an interim edict, the equivalent of an injunction in England and Wales, was granted at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to stop the SFA and Glasgow City Council from disposing of the tickets. The action was brought by nine council workers who are members of Unison, the public service union, and who purchased tickets.

Lord Cameron, making the judgment, said that a contract had been entered into between the purchasers and the SFA and the council had overstepped its authority.

After the judgment, the council said it would honour the sale of the tickets, which will be issued tomorrow. The exception would be where council employees had submitted multiple applications for tickets.

A council spokesman said: "In the light of Lord Cameron's observations, the city council has given an undertaking that we will honour all valid ticket contracts from the SFA for the Scotland-England football match.

"It was, however, acknowledged in court that a number of staff have already volunteered to give up their tickets and it would be a good gesture if other staff followed that example. These tickets, of course, will be returned to the SFA as agreed in court."

After the ruling, Gerry Crawley, who bought two tickets and is a Unison spokesman, said: "It is regrettable from our point of view that this matter had to be settled in the courts. We did not want to come as far as this but we found it necessary.

"The court has ruled what we knew all along - that we are just the same as anyone else in Scotland, who picked up the phone and tried to get tickets. I would emphasise again, that only 250 people out of a workforce of 35,000 got tickets and that is not an organised scam or anything like that."

The union had argued that the council encouraged staff to use internal lines to purchase tickets for other events and employees thought it was fine to do likewise on this occasion.

It claims that its members were used as scapegoats by the SFA, which has acknowledged that fewer than 8,000 tickets for the match were actually put on sale to the public, rather than the 15,000 that were said to have been available. There have also been calls for an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment of Hampden Park, the venue for the match. Debts of pounds 4m to the construction group Sir Robert McAlpine were partly settled by handing over 1,200 debenture seats.