Wednesday 18 January 2017

Pro10 registered Rio website before scooping ticket deal

Shane Phelan and Cathal McMahon

Published 25/08/2016 | 02:30

OCI president Pat Hickey, who is currently in police custody on suspicion of facilitating touting, allegedly sent an email to THG owner Marcus Evans just before the games offering him tickets 'that Pro10 don't want'
OCI president Pat Hickey, who is currently in police custody on suspicion of facilitating touting, allegedly sent an email to THG owner Marcus Evans just before the games offering him tickets 'that Pro10 don't want'

The Irish company at the centre of the Olympic ticket scandal registered a website for the sale of tickets for the Rio de Janeiro games a full two months before being granted a contract to do so.

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The disclosure raises further questions about the process used to select Pro10 Sports Management as authorised ticket reseller (ATR) for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).

Police in Rio have alleged the Lucan-based company was used as "a bridge" to funnel tickets from the OCI to British firm THG Sports for the purpose of touting.

It is alleged this was done to circumvent the decision by the Brazilian National Olympic Organising Committee to reject an application from THG to become an ATR.

Documents seen by the Irish Independent show Pro10 director Michael Glynn registered the domain name pro10rio2016.com on September 3 last year.

This was done despite the fact the company had yet to complete an evaluation process conducted by the organising committee. Pro10 was only officially selected as the ATR of Irish tickets the following November.

Asked if Pro10 knew in advance it had the contract, the company's spokesman declined to comment.

"With the impending government inquiry Pro10 won't be making any more official comment," he said.

The company, run by Mr Glynn (47), fellow football agent Eamonn Collins (47) and financial advisor Ken Murray (41), has denied any wrongdoing, insisting it has "at all times acted properly and fully in line with ATR guidelines".

However, the process through which it was selected will now form part of the state inquiry into the ticket scandal.

The contract did not go out to tender and there was surprise when it was awarded to Pro10, which was a relatively new company with no track record in dealing with ticketing for major events.

In a statement issued to the Irish Independent last week, the OCI said it accepted Pro10's application and submitted the company's name to the Rio 2016 National Olympic Organising Committee and the International Olympic Committee "for their extensive evaluation process".

"The evaluation was completed and Pro10 approved as Ireland's ATR in November 2015. The precise terms of the agreement are commercially sensitive and therefore confidential," the statement said.

Since the Olympics it has emerged the families of many Irish athletes were unable to secure tickets via Pro10 and had to get them from foreign ATRs.

Despite this, OCI president Pat Hickey, who is currently in police custody on suspicion of facilitating touting, allegedly sent an email to THG owner Marcus Evans just before the games offering him tickets "that Pro10 don't want".

Meanwhile, Brazilian police will question an OCI executive today about why he had over 200 unused Olympic tickets in a safe in his room.

Chef de Mission Kevin Kilty and OCI CEO Stephen Martin are scheduled to meet officers at the Cidade de Policia Police City in North Rio at 2pm.

Police officers are keen to ask Mr Kilty why he had 228 unused tickets in his room when they executed a warrant last Sunday.

"Kevin said to me that those tickets were for the athletes and they didn't use them. But we have to check this," Detective Aloysio Falcao told the Irish Independent.

Police seized passports, phones and computers from the two men and colleague Dermot Henihan during the search.

Mr Henihan, the OCI general secretary, met police on Tuesday. A short time later, senior officers confirmed he had no role in an alleged international ticket-touting ring.

Mr Henihan, though, is yet to get his passport back from Brazilian authorities.

When asked if he knew when he would be returning home from Rio, Mr Henihan told the 'Limerick Leader': "No, I don't. I wish I did, but I don't."

Mr Henihan, who is from Limerick City and is heavily involved in St Michael's Rowing Club in the city, was asked by the newspaper if he was happy to be coming home.

He responded: "Of course I am, but if I had my passport, as I have not got my passport yet, and that is a very tedious process here."

The Irish consulate in Rio confirmed it was continuing to provide assistance to four Irish citizens in Brazil in connection with this investigation.

Along with Mr Kilty (50) and Mr Martin they are also in contact with Mr Hickey (71) and fellow Irishman Kevin Mallon (36) at the Bangu prison.

Irish Independent

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