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Tickets up for bids of pounds 250.

Byline: By STEVE DUBE Western Mail

Tickets to watch Wales' Six Nations opener against England are already changing hands for more than three times face value.

The Christmas decorations may still be hanging from the tree but already the Six Nations buzz is well under way with Welsh rugby fans going into the tournament filled with high expectations.

Despite not yet being available for general sale, match tickets to watch the big games are already being touted on the internet and increasing demand is only likely to make matters worse.

An almost guaranteed sell-out, Wales' massive opening clash with world champions England is, as expected, causing the biggest stir and a pair of tickets for the February 5 encounter expects minimum bids of pounds 250 with online auction site eBay. The face value is pounds 42.

Even tickets for the away trip to Italy are currently listed on the site with minimum bids of pounds 70.

Paul Sergeant, General Manager of the Millennium Stadium, said yesterday, 'The buzz for this year's Six Nations and in particular the Wales against England clash started immediately after the Lloyds TSB autumn series ended. We are already experiencing the build-up to these games like never before and we are expecting it to be a huge day.'

However, Mr Sergeant warned rugby-lovers that tickets for the forthcoming games could well be in short supply.

'At the moment, we are assessing the requirements of clubs and debenture holders to ascertain whether any tickets are available to be released for general sale,' he said.

Should there be spare tickets for any of the games once clubs and debenture holders have received their allocations, the remaining tickets will then go on sale at face value and Mr Sergeant warned against paying overinflated ticket prices, no matter how big the game.

'People should not get carried away where tickets are concerned,' he said,

'And we would be only too interested to find the source of the tickets available on the internet or any other tickets being sold above face value.'

A WRU spokesman confirmed that there was no way yet of knowing how many tickets would be available for general sale. However, the spokesman said overpriced tickets were becoming an unfortunate practice at international time.

'This also happened in November for the South Africa and New Zealand games. Even when tickets were freely available to purchase at face value from the ticket shop, they were being auctioned over the internet at two and three times their actual price,' the spokesman said.

'People were able to buy a double ticket for either New Zealand or South Africa and Japan or Romania for pounds 50, but they were going for two and three times that on the internet even though they were freely available.'

However, some supporters felt the whole pricing structure for international matches was wrong.

Jason Richards, chairman of the Llanelli supporters club, said, 'I think the ticket prices are a bit of a farce now.

'They are pricing the man in the street out of the game and it is little wonder why more and more people are now watching matches at home or down their local club.

'No one I know would pay that kind of money for a ticket, but obviously there are people out there who will, especially for the England game.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 5, 2005
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