Glasgow 2014 aims to stamp out online ticket touts

COMMONWEALTH Games tickets resold online at inflated prices will be cancelled by officials as part of a range of measures to stop black market touts cashing in on the sporting showcase.
2014 Commonwealth Games organisers expect crowds at the Athletics Stadium in Glasgow to be near capacity. Picture: PA2014 Commonwealth Games organisers expect crowds at the Athletics Stadium in Glasgow to be near capacity. Picture: PA
2014 Commonwealth Games organisers expect crowds at the Athletics Stadium in Glasgow to be near capacity. Picture: PA

Ty Speer, deputy chief executive of Glasgow 2014, revealed that officials will work with auction sites such as eBay to track tickets sold on for a profit by touts and cancel them before purchasers can attend any events.

Almost one million Commonwealth Games tickets go on sale to the public tomorrow, with prices ranging from £15 for an athletics heat to £120 for ringside seats to the boxing finals. A host of global sports superstars, including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, are expected to be star draws.

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Speer said: “We have been very clear that these tickets are not to be resold. We will monitor and work with the eBays of the world – re-selling these tickets is not legal. Moreover, we would most likely be able to identify who is selling them and then be able to cancel those tickets out of the system. That means that if somebody showed up at a venue with one of these tickets it simply wouldn’t work, and we would be able to trace the ticket back to find out what happened.”

Speer said he wanted to reassure the public that Commonwealth Games staff were working hard to avoid the ticketing “scandals” that beset the early days of the London 2012 Olympics. That ticketing system was criticised as grossly flawed, with some events offering hardly any seats to the public. During one sailing final, 851 tickets went to sponsors while only a single ticket was available to the public. During Novak Djokovic’s opening Olympic match at centre court on Wimbledon, 97 per cent of seats available were given to the “Olympic family” of officials.

There was also criticism about banks of empty seats at key events.

Speer said just over 70 per cent of all tickets will be available to the public for 256 medal events when they go on sale tomorrow morning. People will then have a month to place orders and will be informed if they have been successful in late September.

Tickets for popular events such as the 100 metres final – which is likely to be over-subscribed – will be selected by a computerised random lottery system, and will also be limited to four per household. Around 60 per cent of all events will have a ten-tickets-per-household limit.

While London was heavily criticised for keeping back too many tickets for sponsors and members of the Olympic family, Glasgow 2014 is keen to stress that the majority of tickets to all events will be available to the public.

“A key lesson we’ve learned from London is giving people the confidence that there are tickets available,” said American-born Speer, who worked as client services director at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

“Sometimes, people have gone into this process and they don’t know if there will be any tickets available – we want to put a very strong message out to the public that we promise there are tickets available – not just for one or two sessions but for every single session, even the most popular – and it will always be 70 per cent of all tickets.”

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Speer said that of the 30 per cent not available to the public, eight per cent would go to sponsors, which include Virgin Media, Barr Soft Drinks, BP, and Emirates Airlines. Around five per cent of tickets – almost 70,000 – will be held back until closer to the Games because venues are still being built or adapted and some seating numbers are still not confirmed.

One per cent, equivalent to 13,500 tickets, will be reserved for government officials from Holyrood and Westminster, as well as government bodies that have been involved in organising the Games, including UK Sport. The rest will go to media partners, foreign Commonwealth Games Associations, and hospitality packages, which will be offered via a Glasgow 2014 “travel office”.

Speer also revealed new measures the Games was taking to tackle the empty seats problem which dogged the early days of the Olympics Games, including venues designed so that seats could be added or taken away depending on the popularity of the event taking place.

“It was an important topic for London,” he said. “Often the empty spaces are what we call ‘operational seats’ – they’ve never been ticketed and are set aside for members of the press, Commonwealth Games Association staff or International Sports Federation staff. The real challenge for us is making sure we design these seating areas correctly from the start so there is flexibility in the overall design.”

He added: “We certainly don’t want to have any seats that aren’t used. Every seat is there for a purpose and we want to use it.”

Tickets will also be available from tomorrow for the opening ceremony at Celtic Park and the closing ceremony at Hampden, with ticket prices ranging from £30 for the cheapest seats at the closing ceremony to £250 for the top-tier tickets for the opening.

However, despite the availability of tickets Speer warned against booking too many events in the hopes of being selected for one or two, and ending up with a huge bill.

“Everyone who orders is committed to buying those tickets,” he said. “People should not over extend themselves – some of these tickets will go into lotteries, and while you can book as many sessions as you want, make sure you only book what you can afford.”

Twitter: @emmacowing

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