The good news: we've found the last available World Cup tickets. The bad news: they'll cost you... £20,000

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The Independent Online

The bad news has been piling up for England, what with Wayne Rooney's metatarsal, the saga of "Big Phil" Scolari and Michael Owen's mysterious aches in his scoring foot. But now some good news: The Independent on Sunday has tracked down the only tickets still available for the World Cup.

There is, however, a slight catch: the tickets cost £230,000, the only way to be guaranteed a ringside seat for what has been billed as the greatest show on earth.

Amid unprecedented worldwide demand for tickets to this summer's footballing showpiece in Germany, disappointed England fans have been left to pay for the ultimate VIP package.

Yet for the money you will get more than a halftime pie and a cup of Bovril. Organisers say the tournament, which kicks off on 9 June, will be the most luxurious World Cup ever held. Berlin's Olympic Stadium is now home to the world's biggest "VIP village" and there are comparable provisions at each of the other 11 host venues.

As Germany prepares for the influx of sheikhs, princes, magnates and celebrities to its leading stadiums, some 5,000 chefs and 12,000 waiters will be on hand to serve 1.4 tons of lobster and 50,000 bottles of champagne.

Prices for the boxes vary depending on the venues and matches on offer, but there are still some available. The only snag is the cost: a 12-person Sky Box to watch the World Cup in Berlin, for example, would set you back nearly a quarter of a million pounds - roughly £20,000 a head. In the Sky Box, guests are treated to champagne and fine dining throughout the games, while enjoying some of the best views of the action.

The Swiss company in charge of VIP operations for the World Cup, iSe-Hospitality AG, would not breach client confidentiality, but those rumoured to have already purchased a Sky Box include Prince Albert of Monaco, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Silvio Berlusconi.

As is so often the case with the world's mega-rich, the selling of the boxes has not been without its dramas. The Swiss company has already had to turn down a number of bizarre requests from clients, including a group of Russian businessmen wanting to ship in their own vodka.

One British client who has booked places for the World Cup through iSe is Martyn Jones, a director at a London publishing company. "Watching England matches abroad isn't easy, and hospitality takes the pain away," he said. "You want things to run as smoothly as they can, and hospitality makes that happen. That's what you're buying into."

But the World Cup isn't the only event stamped into business diaries this summer. With the traditional English "season" about to begin, hospitality companies are suggesting this year could be the biggest in recent memory for events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, Glyndebourne, Henley and Ascot.

Chris Avery, a 25-year-old property developer, plans to attend lots of events this summer and has already booked his World Cup corporate box. "It's quite busy this year, and there are all of the parties in between events too. We don't go to all of the functions, but there are certain parties that do stand out," he said.

"The season is all about getting into the London scene. Once you're in, you get invited to everything."

Hot Summer: Highlights of the English season

Glyndebourne Festival

When: 19 May-27 August

Most expensive ticket: £160

Chelsea Flower Show

When: 23-27 May

Most expensive ticket: £425 for champagne reception

Royal Ascot Berkshire

When: 20-24 June

Most expensive ticket: £1,495

Wimbledon

When: 26 June-9 July

Most expensive ticket: £2,750 (men's singles final)

Henley Royal Regatta

When: 28 June-2 July

Most expensive ticket: £10,440 (grandstand box)

Last Night of the Proms

When: 9 September

Most expensive ticket: Grand tier box with hospitality for 10 guests, £995

Megan Waitkoff

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