Ticket punishment piles on problems for Bath
Thursday 16 September 2004
Things go from bad to worse at the Recreation Ground, home of the Premiership's bottom team Bath. Smarting from four-try defeats at the hands of Northampton and Newcastle, they were dealt another double whammy yesterday when Steve Borthwick, their outstanding lock forward and a wildcard tip for the England captaincy, was cited for his part in an all-in brawl last weekend, and the club was stripped of a proportion of its international ticket allocation following a Rugby Football Union investigation into black market transactions.
The RFU, determined to drive unlicensed hospitality providers into the nearby Thames, took action against 15 clubs and St George's School in Harpenden after finding match tickets in the wrong hands. Of the clubs - from Amber Valley in Derbyshire to Woodford in Essex - only Bath play in the élite league.
By way of further embarrassment, it is less than six months since two of their Test contingent, Olly Barkley and Matt Stevens, found themselves in trouble with the union after the discovery of similar ticketing irregularities. The RFU stressed last night that the two incidents were unrelated.
Bath immediately issued a "statement of clarification", in which they denied any deliberate flouting of the rules. "We sold the tickets in good faith, and at face value," said a spokesman. "It appears the initial purchaser could not attend the game and sold them, again at face value, to a third party. We believe it was from this source that the tickets ended up where they did. This case is an illustration that we must all take even greater care to ensure that there is no chance of any of our tickets ending up in the wrong hands again."
Union attempts to exert greater control over the destination of Twickenham tickets, which are allocated to clubs rather than sold to the general public, have gathered pace over the last year with the licensing of three hospitality companies. Some unlicensed businesses accused the RFU of operating a cartel; others contrived to lay hands on tickets despite the restrictions. This latest incident underlines the difficulty of keeping checks on tickets for a stadium that could be sold to capacity three times over for major matches.
Borthwick, meanwhile, must attend a disciplinary hearing in Coventry next Tuesday after being identified as a possible miscreant by one of the RFU's citing officers. Phil Dowson, the Newcastle No 8, who was sent off for his role in the shenanigans, has now been suspended for a week by his club, despite their claims that he was a victim of mistaken identity.
Manchester United can learn lessons from the transfer template of rivals Manchester City
Pavement The Forum, London
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea top the list of the Premier League's most expensive squads
Bayern Munich 'training camp' to supply refugees with food, footballs and German lessons
David De Gea, Peter Odemwingie and the 18 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up