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German loses 50,000 pounds on tennis tickets

A GERMAN businessman spent pounds 50,000 on 35 seats on the centre court at Wimbledon, but every ticket was invalid, it emerged yesterday. The 'sting' was the worst black market ticket offence detected so far at this year's championships.

The tickets were bought through an agency in the Home Counties. The All England Club could not say if he bought the tickets innocently or was trying to get into the championships knowing they were invalid.

The club said the number of tickets finding their way on to the black market was down, but the public was still being caught out. In 1990 the club introduced new conditions for ticket sales which made all tickets invalid if not sold through licensed agencies.

The unauthorised sale or transfer of tickets made them immediately worthless. International visitors to the tournament were often the victims of touts, the club said.

The tickets reached the black market via the public ballot, tennis clubs and foreign tennis associations and were sold on by the dozens of touts that hang around the ground or by unauthorised agencies. Confiscated tickets were resold to the queue.