Embarrassment to serve as Wimbledon's ace to black market

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Wimbledon unveiled its latest weapon in a 50-year war against the ticket black market yesterday - embarrassment. Taking deliberate aim at companies which invest in corporate hospitality, the All England Club unveiled a series of horror stories to put the frighteners on anyone tempted to buy from unofficial sources.

One large British communications firm paid £15,000 for an unofficial 12-person package for the ladies' final. It impressed its potential clients by being refused entry at the gate, and having their tickets confiscated and resold for charity at £4 a piece.

Much the same happened to a German businessman who splashed out £50,000 for Centre Court tickets, only to see his entire party of 35 valued customers turned away. Others bought tickets which simply did not exist.

One Dutch company, which had paid black-market prices in advance to a Dutch agency, was dumbstruck when the party turned up, as instructed, at the Wimbledon ticket office, to be met with blank stares and sympathy, before being shown the exit.

A group of Americans paid $140,000 (£86,500) for a package which included flight, accommodation, tickets and hospitality. They were able to enjoy everything but Wimbledon - none of their 10 tickets were valid.

The moral, says the club's chief executive, Chris Gorringe, is simple. "The last thing we want is to cause individuals and companies disappointment, embarrassment or financial loss - and this is very simply avoided by checking ticket validity prior to purchase."