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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2007, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
World Cup tickets 'too expensive'
Rugby World Cup 2007
Rugby World Cup organisers have been told they should feel "ashamed" of themselves, following a BBC Wales Sport investigation into ticket allocation.

Derek Wyatt MP, Parliamentary Rugby Group chairman, said ticket prices are too expensive and the 30% allocation to the corporate sector is too high.

"To go higher than 20% takes the real fans away," said Wyatt.

"To allocate 30% is 10% too much and Rugby World Cup should be ashamed. It's not as if they need the money."

An investigation for BBC Wales' Scrum V programme has discovered that 30% of the two million tickets for the tournament in September have been given over to the corporate market.

We also think a 70-30 split with regard to the commercial packages is the right thing to do

RWC 2007 managing director Etienne Thobois

The usual slice for comparable sports events is only 20%.

A number of companies have been given the licenses to sell corporate tickets with prices for some pool stage matches, such as Wales v Australia and England v South Africa, starting at 700 to 800.

The 2003 World Cup in Australia generated 81m for the International Rugby Board, part of which is used to fund the game worldwide.

Bigger profits are expected this year for the event which is being staged in France, Wales and Scotland.

Of the 70% of tickets intended for genuine fans, some pool stage match tickets have been priced at almost four times the amount normally charged for the same fixture.

606: DEBATE

When Wales hosted Australia last November, the top-priced ticket at the Millennium Stadium was 45.

A ticket for the same seat in the same stadium to see the same fixture at the World Cup is 164.

By comparison, the top-priced ticket for pool stage matches at the football World Cup in Germany last summer was 70.

In tennis, a ticket for the men's final at Wimbledon is 87.

But RWC 2007 managing director Etienne Thobois defends both the tournament prices and the allocation to the corporate sector.

This game is no longer for us, it's for the corporates who don't give two figs for the game long-term

Derek Wyatt MP

He said: "We built the pricing strategy by having a few games that are priced quite high, but these are paying for the tournament and they allow 80% of the tickets to be priced quite reasonably.

"We also think a 70-30 split with regard to the commercial packages is the right thing to do."

Fans have been able to buy tickets on the RWC website since last year and many matches involving the top teams are already sold out.

Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis insists some of the millions of pounds generated by corporate clients who will attend matches in Cardiff does return to Welsh rugby.

He said: "From the money generated we will get a share and we will put that back into the game.

"So the people who are prepared to pay those prices are subsidising rugby in Wales."

Lewis says the WRU will earn around 3m from hosting tournament matches.

But Derek Wyatt insists: "I'd like to start a website with people where we can get hundreds of thousands of rugby fans to sign to say these tickets are too expensive.

"This game is no longer for us, it's for the corporates who don't give two figs for the game long-term.

"But without the support of the players and the fans there won't be a game."

SEE ALSO
Rugby World Cup 2007 fixtures
11 Jan 07 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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