Ashes ticket prices skyrocket on auction sites

Published: Friday, June 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Prices for sought-after Ashes tickets skyrocketed on online auction sites a day after thousands of furious Australian fans missed out despite being part of a so-called Australian Cricket Family (ACF) deal.

Successful buyers flooded the eBay website to sell their tickets at greatly inflated prices, with two tickets to the opening day of the fifth and final Sydney Test fetching one bid of 15,000 dollars (11,250 US), compared to its face value of between 47 and 113 dollars (35 and 85 US).

Cricket Australia (CA) Friday demanded eBay remove dozens of entries from Ashes ticket-buyers auctioning off in-demand seats at exaggerated prices.

The organisation's public affairs general manager Peter Young said re-selling the tickets at a profit was a breach of contract and, as such, eBay should take a responsible stand against scalping.

"We do have the rights to cancel tickets and we will but the fact there are profiteers out there seeking to take advantage of the public passion for the coming Test series is absolutely disgusting and appalling," Young said Friday.

"We want to do whatever can be done to ensure that tickets only end up in the hands of only legitimate fans."

eBay spokesman Daniel Fieler said the online auctioneer had done all it could to make buyers and sellers adhere to terms and conditions, including the use of a warning through an automated message.

"We don't actually sell the tickets. We provide a marketplace where the buyers and sellers can transact," he said.

Many Australian fans who signed up in advance for the ACF system complained that English supporters had hijacked the arrangement, which was supposed to ensure Australian fans had a chance to purchase Ashes tickets ahead of their English counterparts.

Others told media Friday that their ACF codes didn't work and were angry that ticket agency websites crashed and timed-out before they could buy tickets.

CA said it had sold 272,000 tickets by mid-Friday, which makes November's Australia-England series the most anticipated cricket series in Australian history.

Hundreds of Ashes tickets were offered for auction only a matter of hours after tickets first went on sale to ACF members Thursday.

CA, who organised the purchasing priority system to prevent large numbers of 'Barmy Army' English supporters from flooding Test match attendances at the expense of local fans, warned people not to purchase tickets sold at online auction sites or classified ads as they may be buying cancelled tickets.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said his organisation would clamp down on scalpers selling tickets on eBay, as it had the right to cancel tickets.

"Anyone who's bought a ticket under the terms and conditions is not able to on-sell that ticket, the issues for us are tracking that down," he said.

"It is a real buyer beware situation."

Tickets for ACF members will continue to sell before the remainder (plus an allocation already set aside) go on sale to members of the general public, including England fans, on June 19.

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