2,000 into 500 is a perverse solution

Court Circular
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The Independent Online

Things could get a little heated down at SW19 today. It's "People's Saturday" and with Tim Henman due on Centre Court the demand for tickets will be greater than ever. The All England Club - in its wisdom - has decided to make just 500 rather than the usual 2,000 tickets available to the public on the "middle Saturday" with officials citing safety concerns. "It has reached a critical stage," a spokesman maintained. Indeed last year 9,000 people camped out overnight around Wimbledon Park trying to get a ticket for Henman's match against Wayne Ferreira which led to problems as fans tried to jostle their way to the front of the queue when the gates opened. However, selling fewer rather than more tickets somehow appears to be a perverse solution.


* Still on the issue of safety, a bit of an embarrassment with a reporter from the Daily Mirror able to boast that he bluffed his way into a job escorting players to and from matches after producing false references. Apparently he is not the only journalist here attempting the stunt. Securicor, which is providing 450 guards at the championships, admitted the breach. "It shouldn't happen but it's very difficult to prevent," said a spokesman for the All England Club rather limply. It's not the only cause for concern. During one of the rigorous bag checks which have also been stepped up this year, one guard was asked: "What would you do if you found Semtex?" to which she replied: "What's that?"


* Such incidents are unlikely to impress Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee who is due to pitch up for the men's final. It is all part of London's bid for the 2012 games for which Wimbledon is being proposed as the venue of the tennis competition - although it is rumoured that the club, which is private, is looking for £13m in rent for the privilege. Then there are the transport problems - the main Olympic village is due to be in east London after all. It was lucky Rogge was not here yesterday. A power failure on Thursday evening caused the virtual collapse of one of the main rail lines into the area, leaving several hundred bewildered spectators stranded on the platforms.


* Wimbledon - the film rather than the tournament - just won't go away. Leaflets have been handed out urging spectators and would-be actors to turn up for auditions today in Kensington to be an "extra" in the film which portrays the exploits of a British no-hoper given a wild card who goes all the way to the final. It stars Paul Bettany, who has admitted to never having picked up a tennis racket, before he landed the role. As part of his preparation he has been watching videotapes of previous finals. "My favourite is either a Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe or, more recently, Goran Ivanisevic-Pat Rafter," Bettany said enthusiastically. "I swap sides every time I watch it. At first I was going for Ivanisevic, but the other day I was shouting for Rafter." Someone should tell him - it won't alter the result.

Jason Burt