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Organisers urged to change schedule

Shadow sports minister Clive Efford has urged organisers of the 2015 World Cup to reconsider the 8pm kick-off times allocated to all four of England's group matches.

Concerns have been raised that supporters travelling from outside the south east will struggle to attend the three Pool A games being staged at Twickenham.

While England 2015 has stressed that transport planning is already under way, the familiar congestion encountered when departing Twickenham is expected to be amplified by the late kick-offs.

Travelling by car or incurring extra accommodation costs will be the only options available to fans.

Rugby Football Union chairman Bill Beaumont has defended the 8pm scheduling by claiming the "true England supporter will want to come because they want to be part of a World Cup," but Efford disagrees.

"I do have sympathy with fans who object to 8pm kick-offs at Twickenham and they should be listened to," Efford told Press Association Sport.

"I hope it's not too late to look at the times again because we're still two years away from the World Cup.

"I would urge them to do so (change the kick-off times) if at all possible. Clearly people will find it difficult to get away.

"Not every fan will come from London, they'll come much farther afield and you don't want to exclude those people because of the late kick-off times.

"If you've been to Twickenham and had to queue to get the train, you know what it's like getting away.

"It will be a very long time before many fans are even on the train and that can't be right.

"If fans are saying it's going to make it difficult to travel to and from the venue at that time of day, we should listen to them and set reasonable times.

"It's the fans in the crowd that create the atmosphere. If there wasn't a great atmosphere in the stadium, then sport would be very tedious on TV."

Efford continues to voice strong support for England 2015's pursuit of legislation to outlaw the unauthorised resale of World Cup tickets to prevent fans being exploited by touts.

To date the Government has rejected the idea even though similar protection that was introduced for London 2012 was deemed a success.

Efford views objections to the legislation for the World Cup as inexplicable and has tabled an early day motion in Parliament that to date has been signed by 28 MPs.

"If we don't have this protection, organised gangs of touts with all the technology at their disposal will hoover up as many tickets as they can," he said.

"By doing that they'll generate a shortage, create higher demand and sell them at higher prices. Genuine fans will be exploited.

"England 2015 is dismayed that the Government has refused to pass the legislation. It makes so sense.

"We're told by police intelligence that some of these touts are part of organised criminal gangs that are part of firearms issues and drug dealing.

"Why would we set up a system that's tailor made to fuel that organised criminal activity? Surely there's a moral obligation here?

"England 2015 were in negotiations with the Government, but when I spoke to them last Friday they were at the end of their tether.

"All diplomatic avenues appear to have closed, so what they're hoping for is the Government will be humiliated into working on this."

England 2015 indicated on Wednesday that they remained hopeful that legislation would be introduced.

The organisers later responded to Efford's concerns by stressing that evening kick-offs have become the norm in sport

"The 8pm kick-off times are not unusual for sporting events in this country," an England 2015 spokeswoman said.

"We believe we have found the balance for the fans in the venues and the TV viewers.

"We consulted with the transport providers before finalising kick-off times and have delivered a balanced and equitable schedule."

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