A Minister of State has said he is “disappointed and annoyed” at the failure of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to avail of new anti-ticket touting legislation, while a Sinn Féin spokesperson said the legislation had “fallen at the first hurdle”.
It comes after tickets for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Portugal on November 11th in the Aviva Stadium sold out within minutes on Tuesday morning, with ticket touts re-selling them for inflated prices online.
Minister of State for the Department of Enterprise, Robert Troy, told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that all sporting bodies, music promoters and venues in excess of 1,000 attendees had a responsibility to seek designation for an event under the legislation introduced in the summer.
The process was available online, it was free of charge and could be completed within a matter of minutes, he said. The Minister added that he had written to all sporting organisations, promoters and venues at the end of August to make them aware of the new legislation.
“We’ve worked with the stakeholders and made them aware of their responsibility,” he said.
Mr Troy said he had asked the Aviva stadium to ensure that this does not happen again. The FAI had not availed of the legislation, they had a responsibility to their own patrons, he added.
On Wednesday morning, the FAI said it had now applied for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Portugal to be a designated event under the ticket touting legislation.
The application was made to the Department of Enterprise yesterday, as tickets reselling for inflated prices began to appear online. The Department can still grant the protection of the event, but ticket-touting will be permitted until it does so.
In a statement this morning, the FAI urged fans not to buy tickets sold on third-party websites, adding they risk not receiving a ticket or being allowed into the Aviva Stadium.
It is understood that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has asked officials from the Department of Enterprise to meet with operators of the Aviva Stadium to discuss bringing the venue under the new ticket-touting legislation.
'Fallen at the first hurdle'
Meanwhile, Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn has called on the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) to designate the forthcoming Ireland and New Zealand rugby international as a protected event to ensure that tickets are not sold for more than face value.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Senator Ahearn appealed to both the IRFU and the FAI to designate their venues for all games.
Responsibility for the inflated prices for the Portugal game rested with the FAI who had failed to designate either the event or the venue, he said.
The IRFU would have to apply today to have the New Zealand game designated, he cautioned.
If the industry is not going to be proactive then the Government should be
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on workers' rights, enterprise, trade and employment, Louise O’Reilly, called on the Government to designate the event as protected if the IRFU did not do so.
Ms O’Reilly said that it was clear that the Tánaiste could designate an event and that the Government should act, as only three applications had been made by venues or organisers up to the end of September.
“If the industry is not going to be proactive then the Government should be,” she said.
While the FAI was “clearly” to blame for not designating the Portugal game, the Government had allowed it to happen, she said. The anti-touting legislation had fallen at the first hurdle. There was a need to stamp out ticket touting.
“Let’s hope the Government learns from this.”