England tickets to be available from Monday

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The Independent Online

Tickets for almost all 64 matches at the World Cup, including a limited number for all of England's games, will be made available for public purchase via the website www.fifaworldcup.com from Monday. Prices range from £24 to £67 for group games, and rise to between £81 and £405 for the final on 9 July.

The good news is that there is no need to rush your application because everyone applying between 12 December and 15 January will have an equal chance, via an electronic ballot at the end of January, of success.

The bad news is that this tranche of tickets numbers only 300,000, or about 4,500 per game. Demand is expected to outstrip supply by a factor of at least 10. This is the only authorised source of seats remaining, aside from through national associations such as the Football Association. If you are not already a member of England's official fan club, run by the FA, it is too late to apply by this method.

The worse news, for anyone desperate to attend the big party and cannot get seats via official means, is that the tournament organisers are vowing to crack down hard on all forms of ticket touting. So hard, in fact, that Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said this week that the tight controls led him to conclude that the organisers are "a little too much the perfectionists".

Every ticket will carry the buyer's name, and be embedded with a microchip that might be scanned at the turnstiles on the day of the match. "If everyone has to show their papers, it will take four hours before spectators are in the stadium," Blatter complained this week. But the tournament's organisers, who admit they cannot scan every ticket, say many will be checked.

When a ticket is scanned, security personnel will have instant access to information about the person who bought it. If the person using the ticket is the registered buyer, and can prove it with a passport or other documentation, there will be no problem. If the holder is not the buyer they will be refused admission, a 2006 tournament spokesman said yesterday.

Horst R Schmidt, the Germany Organising Committee senior vice-president, has said that these measures are in place to combat hooliganism and ensure security in the widest sense. "It's a huge task but we want to meet our own aims," he said. "We agreed this with the security experts and we will go through with it, even if it is labour intensive."

The organisers of every major tournament in the past decade have made similar noises about thwarting the black market, but in reality few ticket checks have taken place and a secondary market, at highly inflated prices, has thrived. Yet the Germans seem to be doing everything they can to ensure that seats are not hawked for massive profits by third parties. Indeed they plan to operate an internet "ticket portal" to allow the resale of tickets at face value by fans who buy seats and then cannot attend for whatever reason. Schmidt said. "The aim is to restrict the black market to the absolute minimum." Details will be announced in due course via the tournament website.

The ticket "window" that opens on Monday will be the third of five sales periods. The final two, from 15 February to 15 April and from 1 May onwards, will aim to offload any unsold tickets, but the chances of availability for England games by then will be almost zero.

At the outset of ticket allocation, the 64 matches had a gross capacity of 3.37 million seats. After deductions for VIPs, the media, restricted views and segregation, this fell to 2.93 million seats, but these are not all available to the public.

More than 18 per cent of seats (or about 554,000) will go to official tournament partners, suppliers and sponsors. Another 65,000 will go to " TV partners", including television executives and others in the broadcast industry for personal use. Another 400,000 will go to the " German football family", including clubs, regional associations and officials from the venue cities in the host country.

The football associations of participating nations will receive at least eight per cent of seats per match for sale to fans, which will amount to about 469,000 tickets altogether. And about 100,000 tickets will go to officials from the 205 member nations of Fifa.

That leaves about 1.3 million seats for general sale, 800,000 of which were sold earlier this year. Monday's tranche of 300,000, plus " team-specific packages" (sold out for England) plus the future sales periods, make up the rest.

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