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English Ticket Demands a Concern

June 27, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ England’s official ticket allocation for Tuesday’s World Cup match against Argentina will create a flood of demand on the blackmarket and fresh fears of violence.

The allocation of 2,049 for the second-round game is smaller than for any of England’s group games and could provoke problems as frustrated fans compete for black market tickets.

England’s Football Association deputy chief executive Pat Smith said the FA was trying to negotiate more tickets for the Saint-Etienne match.

England was initially allocated 3,700 tickets for the game in Marseille, 2,700 for Toulouse and 2,500 for Lens, but the figures rose to 7,300, 3,300 and 4,400 after FA intervention.

Smith said the reasons for the small allocation were the capacity of the stadium (36,000), pre-planned security arrangements, and increased international demand for tickets.

Many England fans bought black market tickets for first-round games because allocations were limited following a controversial decision to give 60 percent of the tickets to the French market.

FA security adviser Sir Brian Hayes said the distribution of World Cup tickets had been a failure, and he had always thought much of the French allocation would be resold on the black market.

``It was always evident. Now people are paying outrageous, inflated prices,″ he said.

Kevin Miles, coordinator of the Football Supporters’ Association mobile ``fans’ embassy″ in France, said the ticket allocation was in keeping with the ticket fiasco throughout the tournament.

``There is clearly an exceptional demand among England fans to get to the games, and this is not being met by their efforts to secure tickets through the prescribed means,″ he said.

``The fact that they cannot use legitimate means does not stifle demand, and once again the vast majority of England fans cheering on the team will have paid considerably over the odds for the tickets _ so a lot of people are making a lot of money out of the genuine England supporter.″

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