Locals lose out on Sevens World Cup ticket quota
The Hong Kong public and local rugby clubs stand to lose out on tickets for next year's Rugby World Cup (RWC) Sevens from March 21-23.
Tickets for the 1997 RWC Sevens have been priced at $1,000 for the three days - almost double the $550 cost of a adult ticket for this year's Hong Kong Sevens.
But while the price of the tickets will not be a deterrent for local fans seeking to attend the International Rugby Board-sanctioned World Cup, what will be an obstacle is the availability of tickets.
The only winner in this battle for tickets will be Wembley, the managers of the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium. With the price of a ticket increased almost two-fold, Wembley stands to double its profit for hiring out the stadium and is expected to pocket around $8 million.
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has still not been informed by Rugby World Cup Ltd, which will allocate the tickets, as to what the territory's share will be.
But it is known that the Union is unlikely to get the same allocation as in past years at the Hong Kong Sevens - which was 60 per cent for local sale and 40 per cent being sold overseas through sponsors and travel agents.
At a recent press conference, RWC Ltd director Marcel Martin revealed that the split was likely to be 50-50. This would immediately see Hong Kong lose out on the number of tickets available for local fans.
'RWC were expected to get back to us on a final ticket policy by the end of April. They have still not done so and we have not been allocated our share of tickets,' said the Union's executive director, Pieter Schats, yesterday.
Until RWC Ltd reveals Hong Kong's allocation, Schats was unwilling to say whether local rugby clubs would still be able to get their normal two tickets per member.
'Once we know how many tickets we get, we will then consult the clubs. I'm not sure if everyone [clubs and public] will like what they get,' added Schats.
The HKRFU will make every attempt possible to see that people who support rugby all year around won't suffer.
The most likely casualty in such a case would be the Hong Kong public. This year around 8,000 tickets went on public sale for the Hong Kong Sevens. Tickets were sold out in a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, the HKRFU is currently talking to Wembley over the cost of hiring out the stadium for the three-day tournament. Wembley's hiring policy asks for $150,000 per day or 20 per cent of the gate receipts, whichever is higher.
At $1,000 per ticket, the gate receipts are expected to be close to $40 million. This would see Wembley receive something like $8 million as hiring fees.
'The higher fees are an issue. We are talking to Wembley and trying to come to an agreement which will keep everybody happy,' said Schats.