PANICKED fans scrambling for tickets to the Scottish Cup final have been warned against buying from rogue websites – with the gold-dust briefs already being sold at five times their face value.
Tickets for the south stand at Hampden were being hawked online at up to £190, compared with the £35 cost price.
The discovery prompted a consumer watchdog and both Edinburgh clubs to urge supporters to buy from official channels only.
Spanish-based site Live FootballTickets.com is among the first to be found peddling the much-coveted briefs, which have yet to be distributed to the Edinburgh clubs contesting the final.
It is understood the website, which boasts the strapline: “Reliable. Secure. Enjoy the Match”, has been reported to the Scottish Football Association’s (SFA) legal team who could take action against its owners.
It states online that tickets are approved by specialists and that the “face value of a ticket can differ from the selling price, because the tickets listed on LiveFootballTickets are sold at ‘market value’”.
The SFA was alerted to the touting site via Hearts after it was highlighted by the Evening News.
An SFA spokeswoman said: “This is not an official site and we would advise fans not to use it.”
Hibs bosses have vowed to root out the ticket touts to ensure more real fans get to experience their first Scottish Cup showdown against their city rivals for 116 years.
“Hibernian FC will do everything we can to ensure that cup final tickets go to genuine Hibs supporters and we will be working very closely with the authorities to make sure that is the case,” said a spokesman.
“That includes regular scans of social media websites and online bidding sites in an attempt to prevent touts from profiting from the phenomenal demand for tickets.”
Hearts also said they would strive to safeguard fans from flagrant profiteering. “We will be doing all that we can to ensure fans are not exploited,” said a spokesman. “We would encourage fans, where at all possible, to go via official club channels to secure their tickets for the game.”
Unprecedented demand for the May 19 final suggests that the limited tickets are unlikely to go on general sale and so season ticket holders at both clubs will get priority access.
Trisha McAuley, deputy director of Consumer Focus Scotland, said: “We know that some sellers add mark-ups to tickets and there are also, unfortunately, some sellers who are not genuine,” she said.
“That’s why we would always urge people to be careful and before buying tickets online, check official football club websites – they will have details of where to buy tickets, how much they are and what tickets are available.”
The Evening News contacted LiveFootballTickets for comment but did not receive a response.