Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

World Cup ticket tout ban unlikely

England Rugby 2015 has been pushing hard for ticket touting made illegal

The Government looks set to turn down a request by Rugby World Cup organisers to have ticket touting at the tournament made illegal.

Ministers are concerned that the demands it would put on the police do not justify a law being passed - and that it would open the floodgates to every other major sporting and leisure event asking for similar treatment.

That would be a blow to England Rugby 2015 which has been pushing hard for a law to be introduced, and comes a day after it emerged Manchester United have pulled Old Trafford out of the running to be a venue for the Rugby World Cup due to concerns over the likely damage to the pitch.

Ticket touting was outlawed at the London Olympics, but that is part of the guarantee every host government has to give to the International Olympic Committee. The International Rugby Board (IRB) asked for no such guarantee.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said the Government would consider the request but stressed there were a number of major obstacles.

Robertson told the Press Association: "In an ideal situation Rugby World Cup 2015 would have a ban on all the ticket touting and we will look at this. However to pass any sort of primary legislation you have to prove that it is absolutely necessary, you just can't pass laws on the off chance.

"You have really got to prove it is necessary. You can understand why the IRB would want it, you can understand why the organising committee would want it. They would have to prove there is an absolute need. In concert with the police we would also have to be sure that law we pass is enforceable.

"On top of that, the third element is what the knock-on consequences of that would be because once you have done it for rugby probably every other single large sports event will want it and every other music event.

"It also means significant demands on the police. There is quite a basket of issues, it is not as simple as a one-off application for a Rugby World Cup."

Selling football tickets in a public place is illegal under a 1994 law brought in after the Hillsborough disaster but they can be legally re-sold above face value on secondary ticket sites. Many police forces also turn a blind eye to ticket touting on the basis that it is not worth the manpower needed to tackle it properly.

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