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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 23:20 GMT

UK: Scotland

Football officials suspended in ticket probe

Six SFA staff have been suspended

Six Scottish Football Association employees have been suspended over alleged irregularities in the distribution of tickets for the Scotland v England Euro 2000 qualifier.

The staff, who have not been named, were suspended over alleged irregularities in the allocation of tickets for the Hampden play-off on Saturday.

Graham More: "We're looking as quickly as possible into what went wrong"
SFA president Jack McGinn said: "The SFA has begun an investigation into allegations concerning the possible involvement of a small number of staff in irregularities connected to the allocation of tickets through the credit card hotline.

"Six employees were suspended by the chief executive as soon as these allegations came to light."

The suspensions come as the director of British Telecom in Scotland expressed "shock" at allegations staff at a second call centre tried to jump the queue for the match.

Graham More has promised a speedy inquiry into the activities of staff at an emergency services call centre in Glasgow, only days after it was alleged workers in Inverness bypassed a hotline to get tickets.

Mr More said checks would be made to see if staff had been acting improperly and disciplinary action considered if company rules were found to have been broken.

[ image: Around 140 council staff have handed tickets back]
Around 140 council staff have handed tickets back
BT has begun checks to investigate whether staff used computers to learn alternative internal numbers for the Glasgow City Council ticket centre handling the sale.

Mr More said: "The 12,000 BT people, who are very committed to serving their customers throughout Scotland, are just as shocked as I was by these allegations.

"We are looking as quickly as possible into what went on, if anything, and trying to get to the bottom of this matter."

Mr More said the company would "have a pretty good idea who was calling whom".

Latest twist

Amid reports that one member of staff bought 18 tickets, he promised appropriate disciplinary action would be considered.

"If we found there was genuine wrongdoing and I'm not saying that is the case, but if we do find that....the punishment would have to fit the crime," he said.

The allegations are the latest twist in the fiasco surrounding the handling of the ticket sales for the vital game at Hampden Park on Saturday.

Glasgow City Council has launched an investigation into the handling of the sales.

Three members of council staff were suspended while the inquiry is carried out.

Handed back

It will examine the whole affair, including the use of internal phone lines by staff to access the hotline.

On Friday, the council revealed 761 members of its staff used internal lines to buy some 1,522 seats for the first-leg play-off.

Council bosses said they had returned 740 tickets to the Scottish Football Association for re-sale - 140 of those are from staff who have handed them back in the light of the scandal.

The remaining 600 include invalid multiple bookings and singles at the end of rows.

In a court case last week, a judge ruled the council workers in question should not be forced to hand them back as they had purchased the tickets legally despite gaining an 80-second advantage over fans calling the external number.

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