Cricket Australia revamps Ashes ticket policy

Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Cricket Australia overhauled the way it sells tickets for the much-anticipated Ashes series against England after criticism from fans that the existing system played into the hands of scalpers.

The revamp came after thousands of angry fans who missed out when the first batch of tickets went on sale this month were left fuming as tickets immediately appeared on Internet auction sites at vastly inflated prices.

In response, Cricket Australia has placed a four-ticket limit on each purchase, introduced staggered release dates across the country and made the tickets available over-the-counter from booking outlets.

Previously fans could buy up to 10 tickets at a time through Internet booking agencies or telephone operators, a system Cricket Australia admitted earlier this month needed improvement due to unprecedented public demand.

"We believe we've put three very positive measures in place ensuring as many Australians as possible have simpler and fairer access to available tickets to the upcoming summer, including the Ashes series," Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said on Tuesday.

The first batch of tickets went on sale on June 1 to customers who had signed up to become members of the so-called Australian Cricket Family (ACF), meaning they had to supply an Australian residential address.

It was designed to prevent members of England's "Barmy Army" dominating the crowds Down Under after Australia's oldest sporting foe claimed the Ashes for the first time in 18 years last September.

But Australia boasts a huge expatriate English community, many of whom simply became ACF members and bought tickets for friends and family visiting Australia for the series.

Many other tickets have appeared on the Internet, with one for the Sydney Test fetching a bid of 15,000 dollars (11,250 US) -- compared to its face value of between 47 and 113 dollars (35 and 85 US).

More than 320,000 tickets to the Test and one-day series have already been sold, making it the most anticipated tour in Australian cricket history.

A second batch of at least 80,000 tickets goes on sale next week to all fans, including non-ACF members.

Tickets for Adelaide, Sydney and Perth Tests will go on sale on June 19, Brisbane June 20 and Melbourne June 21.

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