Black-market ticket holders face shut-out in GAA clampdown
THE GAA last night issued a stark warning that anybody who buys an All-Ireland ticket on the black market risks being refused admission to Croke Park for either Sunday's football final or the hurling final replay a week later.
It came as demand for the Donegal-Mayo game sent black market ticket prices soaring to over €1,000 per pair. A bidding war was underway on eBay as supporters continued their desperate search for tickets.
However, GAA director-general Paraic Duffy warned the public against being tempted into the black market, where as well as paying vastly inflated prices, they may find that their tickets have been cancelled.
"It happened for the drawn hurling final where people came to the turnstiles with tickets that we had cancelled because we knew they had been sold on the black market. Some people will be caught again next Sunday if they buy tickets that way.
"They may have bought them in good faith, but if a ticket is cancelled, there's no admission -- it's as simple as that. So the message is: don't buy tickets on the black market," he said.
With modern ticket-issuing technology now extremely sophisticated, tickets can be easily cancelled. The original will appear valid, but the scanning code won't operate the turnstile, leaving the holder with a useless ticket which has cost multiples of the face value.
Football final tickets on eBay's bidding list ranged in price yesterday from €1,050 per pair for the most expensive to €620 for the cheapest. The top face-value price for stand tickets is €80. Other internet sites were also offering tickets for sale.
Two tickets on the Upper Cusack stand were readily identifiable on eBay, showing section, row and seat numbers. They later disappeared, presumably having been bought for more than the €630 at which they were last listed.
The GAA has bought black market tickets in the past in order to ascertain their origin. No All-Ireland final tickets go on general sale, but despite maintaining a tight grip on distribution to various units and clubs, it's very difficult for the GAA to fully beat the black market.
Duffy said that when a club allocates a ticket, there's always a chance that it will find its way into the hands of profiteers.
"In the main, that doesn't happen, but there are always people who will try to exploit the demand for tickets. We are constantly on the look-out for tickets that show up on the black market and, when they do, we cancel them," he said.
"They can be reissued and given to genuine supporters, so it's not as if the seats are left empty. The important thing for people to realise is that if they deal in the black market they may find themselves with a big cost for tickets which won't get them into Croke Park."