Next year’s Rugby World Cup is set to be a fantastic sporting spectacle as the world’s best players compete against each other hoping that their team has the right skill, determination and luck to be crowned world champions and lift the Webb Ellis cup.
An estimated 2.3 million people will pack into thirteen stadiums across England and Wales, but unfortunately thousands of fans will be forced to choose between missing out on the action or paying the sky-high prices demanded by increasingly organised ticket touts.
Tickets go on sale this autumn but six months before the first ticket is released for sale, touts are already selling final tickets online for up to £8500; almost four times the average worker’s monthly pay packet.
Knowing that touts would inevitably target the event, organisers have been pleading with the Westminster government to give the games special protection over the resale of tickets, similar to the scheme put in place for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
So far the Coalition have refused to act. Designating the games as an “Event of National Significance” would restrict the resale of tickets to approved vendors and at face value price, as well as giving organisers the ability to cancel any tickets offered illegally for sale by ticket touts.
My Labour colleagues and I in parliament have offered to co-operate with the government to pass the necessary legislation before tickets go on sale later this year.
However, the government still refused to stand up and protect rugby fans, even in light of police warnings that profits from some ticket tout gangs are used to fund other criminal activity, including drug and gun crime.
Rugby fans and the British public deserve better than this. That is why I have written to the Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to do the right thing, and started an online petition to demonstrate the strength of feeling among the general public against ticket touts who make massive profits by exploiting the passion of genuine fans.
I’m asking all rugby and sports fans, as well as members of the public, who agree that something must be done, to sign my petition by visiting http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stop-rugby-ticket-touts
Hopefully, together, we can get the government to see sense and act in the interest of rugby fans, so that the World Cup can be enjoyed by everyone and not just those who can afford to pay the touts.
Graeme Morrice is the Labour Member of Parliament for Livingston