Ticket demand heavy: ICC

Bangalore: Fans getting beaten up by police in a mad scramble for tickets is not the kind of scenes that the ICC wants to see at the World Cup, CEO Haroon Lorgat said on Saturday but conceded that the demand has far exceeded supply in the ongoing event.

"Those are scenes we would not like to see, but it is also a fact that local authorities know how to handle the situation," Lorgat told reporters here.

"All tickets, one way or another, find their way to the public whether through clubs, boards, the ICC. It is unfortunate that there are only a few number of tickets for the public," he said.

Lorgat`s statement came in the backdrop of a police lathicharge on fans seeking tickets for the India-England clash here tomorrow.

With most of the tickets reserved for sponsors, ICC and overseas visitors, the local fans have been left to jostle for very few. Add to this, the online ticket sales have also not gone about smoothly with the website roped in to handle the work crashing down several times because of excessive rush.

The ICC had written to the BCCI asking it to resolve the matter but the Indian Board claimed it was only honouring the commitments made to the world governing body.

Lorgat said it was regrettable that very few tickets have been put on sale for the local fans but admitted that the supply would never be able to meet the demand in a huge country such as India.

"No matter what sort of capacity we provide, the truth is that we won`t have enough seats for the demand that we have on our hands," he reasoned.

In a lighter vein, Lorgat said the rush for tickets indicates that one-day cricket is still very popular despite being threatened by the Twenty20 storm.

"You have got to accept that this rush for tickets is an indication of how popular this game is. Some while back we talked about of the demise of 50-over cricket and look what we have got," he quipped.

Lorgat said the ICC can hardly do anything in this matter as ticket sales is host country`s domain.

"The ticket sales are in the hands of the host. We settle sub-agreements with them. Some commitments are well in advance," Lorgat explained.

"It`s a fact that a local host has also got commitments whether it is a local organisation, whether it is the clubs or the BCCI — all of their associations, the commitments are a facts. It is also true that we simply don`t have enough tickets for the demand," he said.

Asked why the ICC`s legal department head David Becker wrote to President Sharad Pawar complaining about the allocation of tickets, Lorgat said the former BCCI chief has been supportive in dealing with issues related to India.

"From time to time, we write to our President and then …it is also true that in the past in any complication that we have faced, the office of Pawar has been very supportive.

He has assisted us in resolving these issues. And I`m sure that this particular incident as well, we have that sort of support," Lorgat said.

On the ballot system for issuing tickets for semifinals and finals of the World Cup, Lorgat said, "…we will follow our ballot system to release tickets for future matches including the semifinals and final. It is fairer and it will avoid the physical risks that we want to avoid and I`m confident that it will be a much better system to release tickets."

Ironically enough, empty seats are also a reality at this World Cup as non-India matches are failing to find enough spectators but Lorgat said the matter is subjective.

"I`m not sure we want to describe it as empty seats. I would say they are not full. Because there`s a large turnout as seen in Delhi, where there was large turn out for the non-India game," he said.

"It is true that India matches are extremely well supported. We all understand the difficulties that we were experiencing. It is reflection of great demand and I`m excited by that. Sure we can manage the whole process better and we will do through the ballot process that should work a lot better.

"With respect to the (ticketing) website, it shows the popularity of the ICC`s flagship event but it is unfortunate that the system crashed and I can assure that nobody would have anticipated that many multi-millions of hits," he added.

Apart from the ticket fiasco, the preparedness of some venues — such as Mumbai`s Wankhede Stadium — is also an issue but Lorgat said everything was being managed.

"We have the views of the experts who have done the inspection and I`m satisfied with that the stadium is prepared," he said.

"…it`s an issue which is all resolved. As far as the Wankhede Stadium is concerned, I have said earlier, there were Twenty20 matches that have been played there. The stadium has been inspected," he added

Meanwhile, Karnataka State Cricket Association secretary Javagal Srinath said any ticket that the sponsors or the ICC do not use would be put on sale for the common fan.

"It is coming in batches of 25-30. It`s called Option-to-buy-tickets. If the sponsors reject in batches of 25 or 40 we cannot go to the box-office. We have to sell them here. We have also asked the Kyazoonga (website) to wait till 8`o clock in the night, if there are any tickets that come from the ICC, we will put it for sale," he said.

"This is something we need to adjust and how we need to do that. For 7,000 tickets 70,000 people standing in the queue, how do we manage? We have to give it in the box-office.

I am seeing the same system since `87 when I stood in the queue. It is really good to have a box-office where an absolute cricket fan doesn`t get a ticket?. Anybody has any solution, we will take it," he added.