Organisers probe illegal ticket sales

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The Independent Online
Euro 96 officials are investigating an organisation illegally selling tickets for Saturday's match between England and Scotland.

Tickets agencies contacted by the Independent yesterday said that they were not dealing in Euro 96 tickets. One agency, however, provided the telephone number of someone who could supply tickets. Prices started at pounds 90 for tickets with a face value of pounds 25. pounds 35 tickets were available at pounds 125, pounds 45 at pounds 150 and more exclusive tickets were "by arrangement". Asked if the organisation would be able to provide a dozen tickets, the seller replied that it would not be a problem. No questions were asked about which area of seating was required.

The re-sale of football tickets is illegal under the Criminal Justice Act and the organisers of Euro 96 are especially keen to monitor ticket sales and keep rival fans apart. The England-Scotland game, the first between the sides since 1989, is potentially one of the most volatile fixtures of the tournament in terms of crowd trouble.

A spokesman for Euro 96 said that it was impossible to control who used every single ticket. He cited the example of foreign fans living in England who may have bought tickets in this country and thus be seated with English fans. He added: "We will investigate all reports of tickets being sold at inflated prices in breach of the regulations." Ultimately, he said, it is a matter for the police.

A police spokeswoman said they were aware that some tickets were being sold by unlicensed organisations, and that the police had been clamping down on sellers. She added: "We're dealing with it, and on the whole, we're on top of it."

For Saturday's game, there will be 1,000 police officers operating around London. "We're prepared for any eventuality," said the spokeswoman.

One group of people who are not so happy with the Euro 96 arrangements are supporters who cannot get tickets for matches, even when there are thousands of unsold tickets.

The problem was highlighted in Nottingham on Tuesday evening when 4,000 tickets went unsold while thousands of supporters were left outside. That problem was alleviated last night when the Football Association agreed to match-day sales for the other City Ground games, but the system is still at fault elsewhere.

Another mystery has been why, if more than 90 per cent of the tickets have been sold as organisers announced earlier this week, do the grounds appear to be anything but full?

The answer seems to be that tickets have been sold to foreign football federations who have been unable to sell them but are unable to return them for re-sale. "That's why the tickets sold for each game doesn't correspond to the people in the seats," a Euro 96 spokesman said yesterday.