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Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 16:30 GMT

Sport: Football

New twist in Hampden tickets uproar

The Hampden refurbishment has created debt problems

The sale of tickets for the Scotland v England Euro 2000 play-off match at Hampden is embroiled in yet more controversy.

The National Stadium Company, which runs Hampden Park, is reported to have given 1,200 debentures to building contractor Sir Robert McAlpine.

The debentures are said to be payment for a quarter of the estimated £4m debt owed by the National Stadium Company to the contractors for the Hampden refurbishment.

The move is also said to be part of a deal to prevent Hampden going into receivership.

The Scottish Football Association council meets on Monday afternoon. Chief executive David Taylor is expected to respond to accusations that fans were misled on the number of tickets available for public sale.

Martin Rose: "A fiasco from start to finish"
Martin Rose, secretary of the Scottish Federation of Football Supporters' Clubs, said the SFA should publish a list showing how many tickets were meant to be sold on Friday and how many actually were.

"That way everybody can see exactly where the allocations have gone," he added.

At least 500 tickets are to be re-sold after being taken back from Glasgow City Council employees.

Internal lines

Staff used internal lines to get round the logjam of calls to the official ticket sales system, which was being operated by the council.

A council inquiry found that 250 workers had reserved their seats through the internal lines.

The BBC's Liz MacKean: "Taking the tickets back is discipline enough"
The staff involved will face no disciplinary action for using the scam. Taking the tickets back "would be punishment enough", the council said.

It is not yet clear how the tickets will be resold, although the hotline will certainly not reopen. The SFA said it did not want to "put the nation through the logjam that existed on Friday".

The Scottish Football Association has been accused of putting on general sale just 8,000 of the 14,000 tickets available for the Hampden match.

[ image: The SFA has apologised for any confusion]
The SFA has apologised for any confusion
The SFA said it has not misled the public and it has been perfectly open about how the tickets have been sold.

It acknowledged that 8,000 were sold through the hotline and the rest was made up of allocations to youth groups and unsold Hampden debenture seats.

An association spokesman said: "We obviously regret if anyone feels they were misled by any breakdown of the ticket distribution figures, but emphasise that all tickets have gone to Scotland supporters."

Chief executive of Glasgow City Council, Jimmy Andrews, said: "We apologise to fans and to members of the public who had difficulty getting through to the ticket centre.

Lack of operators

"The volume of calls was beyond all expectations and any phone system would have been under great difficulty in coping with a bombardment rate of a million calls an hour."

A spokeswoman for BT said the problem had been caused by a "fault in Glasgow City Council's own private switchboard, and because there were only 35 operators".

"The Wembley ticket centre had 200 operators," she said.

"In discussion with the council we had earlier proposed to operate the ticket handling on their behalf because we have the expertise and network to run this type of service. This offer was declined."

BT said the volume of calls to the Glasgow ticket centre had affected telephone exchanges across Britain during the day.

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