Union vows to blacklist Sevens ticket touts
Local rugby clubs or individuals caught selling preferential Hong Kong Sevens tickets face blacklisting following the Sunday Morning Post's discovery that tickets were being touted online for more than four times their face value.
Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) chairman Trevor Gregory said profiteers who sold the tickets after receiving preferential allocations could be banned from future allotments.
The warning came as the Post discovered three-day tickets, with a face value of HK$1,500, for next weekend's tournament being offered for up to the equivalent of HK$6,821 on international ticket websites.
The discovery will be galling to local fans unable to get tickets for the event after only 4,000 - 1,000 fewer than last year - of the 40,000 tickets available went on sale to the general public this year.
The public allocation of seats at the Hong Kong Stadium was scaled back so more could go to the booming number of local rugby clubs.
But a survey by the SMP of websites selling mainly to fans in continental Europe or Britain indicated that many people with preferential tickets were selling all or part of their seats for hefty returns.
Yesterday, three-day tickets in the upper level of Hong Kong Stadium with a face value of HK$1,500 were on offer on online ticket exchange viagogo.co.uk for GBP554.65 (HK$6,821) - more than 4.5 times their original purchase price.
On rugbyboxoffice.com, tickets were available for up to Euro550 (HK$5,625). A Sunday-only pass - which would leave the seller with passes for the Friday and Saturday games - was being sold for Euro350. At that rate, the vendor would have a profit of more than HK$2,000 on the original ticket while still retaining the Friday and Saturday portions of the ticket to use or sell.
Three-day tickets on ticketstosee.com were being offered for GBP450. Getmein.com had three-day passes for GBP467.50, and Sunday-only tickets were going for GBP198.
Overseas fans made up slightly more than half of the audience at the Rugby Sevens last year, even though 75 per cent of tickets were sold or allocated through local channels, according to HKRFU figures.
A union spokesman said earlier this month that it was possible tickets were being distributed to people overseas with close ties to Hong Kong or former residents.
Gregory said the union was 'very concerned about the unauthorised resale of Sevens tickets both in Hong Kong and overseas'.
'The HKRFU regularly issues cease-and-desist letters to unauthorised websites selling tickets and in the past has purchased tickets from these websites to determine their authenticity and point of origin,' he said, adding some of the tickets turned out to be fake or non-existent.
'On the back of each ticket it clearly states that the tickets are not to be re-sold and any person with a ticket that has been found to be on-sold may be refused entry.'
He warned they could trace the origin of locally distributed tickets.
Direct benefits to the city's economy from overseas spending during the tournament