The organisers of the 2015 World Cup have missed a golden opportunity to innovate. In an age of e-tickets and online trading, they appear to have ignored the obvious unknowns presented by the knockout stages of a World Cup.
Suppose I am an England fan for the purposes of this illustration. If England win Pool A, they will play in QF4 at Twickenham on Sunday October 18, prices £95 to £250. If they win that, they will reach SF2 on Sunday October 25, prices £125 to £515.
If, however, England finish second in Pool A, their path to glory will be via QF2 on Saturday October 17 and SF1 on Saturday October 24. Which path shall I choose for my ticket application? And which path should my Welsh and Australian friends whose teams are in the same group opt for? It's guesswork and it's expensive.
Ignoring the corporates and parasites who wouldn't care what game they are watching, approximately half the tickets for each knockout match will be bought by the wrong fans. In the case of Pool A there will be plenty of tickets in the hands of fans whose team doesn't qualify for any quarter final.
With a Category B ticket at £215 for a quarter-final and £315 for a semi-final, I would like a facility to exchange with my Welsh or Australian friends once the Pool A results are known. I have no wish to spend £530 to go to the wrong matches. If England lose their quarter-final, I might even want to sell my £315 semi-final ticket and my £515 Category B ticket for the final. And there will be plenty of eager buyers. Personal experience from 2003 World Cup saw the streets awash with miserable Kiwis offloading tickets for the final once the All Blacks had lost the semi-final.
The organisers are determined to eliminate ticket touts, illegal websites and other means of private ticket exchange. Laudable intentions, but useless because the nature of a knockout competition demands that tickets can be exchanged or sold as teams are eliminated. Simply applying what worked well for the Olympics is not the solution here.
It can not be beyond technological capability to make e-tickets legitimately transferable in the week of a knockout match. There will be supply and demand, but the organisers are being blinkered and naive in refusing to recognise it and take the opportunity to offer a solution.
Richard Seeckts' rugby career consisted of one school match where he froze on the wing and despite no substitutes being available he was withdrawn from the game at half-time for mocking the opposition's line-out calls. Thereafter Richard and the sport agreed active participation was not the way ahead, but that has not prevented him from avidly writing about and watching the game. He now contributes his random observations to the Crooked Feed blog on ESPNscrum.com