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Rugby clubs on the 'brink of revolution'

Ticket allocation row sees rugby chiefs meet in Dublin today

Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

ALL EYES ARE on IRFU HQ today as the Irish game’s top brass meet to discuss growing disquiet amongst clubs over ticket allocation for international games.

The union demands payment in full from clubs for their ticket allocations within three days of each match with any failure to comply resulting in  Six Nations tickets being stripped.

Writes Simon Lewis in this morning’s Irish Examiner:

Delegates from each of the Munster clubs are understood to have met with the Munster Branch last Friday to discuss the situation, and warn the Branch that as many as half of the allocated tickets could be returned, given the asking price of €100 for a stand seat for this month’s Tests against the Springboks and New Zealand and those matches being packaged with tickets for the other games against Samoa and Argentina respectively.

Having seen the IRFU previously stand firm on the issue, the clubs will be hoping the powers that be come up with a solution to the problem in Dublin today.

In the same paper, columnist Donal Lenihan insists that the clubs are on the brink of a revolution if the issue is not resolved quickly. And they may force an emergency general meeting, such is their unhappiness at taking a financial hit over unsold stubs. He writes:

[I]t appears that the clubs are on the brink of revolt with sufficient numbers ready to force an EGM on the issue. To do so requires a minimum of 25 of the 49 senior clubs. Present indications suggest they will have no difficulty in assembling that number.

With tickets for South Africa and even the New Zealand game proving difficult to shift, one can only imagine the grief the clubs face in trying to move their quota for Samoa and Argentina. Too many clubs took a financial hit on the ticket front last season and quite rightly are not prepared to cough up again.

It is my understanding that the clubs will return their unsold allocation to the Union this week. Should the IRFU decide to charge the individual clubs for those or withdraw their allocation for the Six Nations, then an EGM looks certain to be called by the clubs.

Yesterday in the Sunday Business Post, however, Nicola Cooke reported that the IRFU expect 200,000 people to attend the November internationals – despite the expensive ticket prices.

Padraig Power, IRFU commercial and marketing director, acknowledged that the marketplace here was now ‘‘a very different one’’. He added:

We recognise it’s a tough environment, but we believe the games will be a big boost for trade in November, and we expect a fantastic atmosphere.

A Smurfit Business School economic study showed that the Ireland v England Six Nations game in 2007 generated €81million over the weekend it was on. While the Guinness Series is not the same thing, we have extrapolated that it will be worth more than €100 million to the economy.

All corporate boxes will be in use for Saturday’s South Africa game, and 10,000 premium-level ten-year tickets had already sold out prior to the series.

Irish Examiner sports editor Tony Leen earlier tweeted that clubs were also unhappy with the quality of the tickets at the Aviva.

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