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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Campaign for fair ticketing practices

I'm a passionate Scotland and Albion Rovers supporter.

Next week, the Scottish team face Spain at Hampden. The Tartan Army v The World Champions. Hmmm...should be close.

I'd love to be there. I do go to some games, but I'm not currently a member of the Scotland Supporters Club because it's currently so well subscribed it's not taking new members. This is a shame really, because it's only members who get the tickets for the big games like the Spain match and only members who can buy tickets for away matches.

Which seems fair enough. Until you look on eBay and see three tickets for the Scotland v Spain fixture (with a face value of £105) bidding for £7,600.

It's easy to see how SSC members can abuse current arrangements by purchasing tickets for matches they will not attend and selling them on for huge profits. This abuse (or privilege, depending on your perspective) must be challenged.

And this isn't an isolated incident. There were other tickets for the same match bidding at far in excess of their face value. This was also the case when Scotland took on Italy and France in recent years. Add the large number of Old Firm and Scottish Cup tickets that find their way onto eBay each year and you see both a pattern and a problem developing.

I believe there have been people "wrecking" auctions by placing bids of £1million and this has forced sellers to remove their tickets from eBay. This is welcome, and I salute the efforts and motives of such people. However, this does not prevent the individual from selling the tickets elsewhere and hardly constitutes a long-term strategy.

Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 actually prohibits the resale of tickets for all league matches and games involving the national teams. It has done a reasonable amount to combat the problems associated with touting. Unfortunately, however, it does not apply to Scotland.

I have written to Shona Robison MSP, the SNP Minister for Public Health and Sport, and provided evidence of the problem in addition to requesting action is taken to legislate for a fairer and ethical ticketing system which conforms to the SFA's philosophy of "football for all". I have also contacted the relevant spokespersons of the other parties in Holyrood, urging them to help facilitate a long-term solution to the problem.

I am optimistic that there will be a consensus of opinion on this across the political spectrum and that overdue action will be taken. In the meantime, I would be grateful for interested persons to sign the petition: (link to follow)

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