Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

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Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby sheepshagger » September 9th, 2010, 8:21 pm

IRISH soccer's governing body is facing a crisis over the disastrous sale of premium tickets for the new Aviva Stadium, an Irish Independent investigation reveals.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is millions of euro in the red after it failed to sell half of the 10-year tickets it planned to use to cover its massive borrowings. Thousands of empty premium seats were clearly visible in both of Ireland's first two home internationals in the €411m stadium.

And today's revelations will heap further pressure on chief executive John Delaney, who has continually denied the extent of the ticketing fiasco.

Mr Delaney and his board gave the green light for the association to take out massive loans to fund its €74m commitment towards the renovation of Lansdowne Road. It intended to cover the repayment from the sale of 10,400 premium-level 'Vantage Club' seats.

At the launch of the Vantage project in September 2008, Mr Delaney said the association needed to sell 60pc of the seats to reach break-even point.

However, figures seen by the Irish Independent reveal that International Stadia Group (ISG), a third-party company commissioned by the FAI to sell the seats over two years, had allocated just 4,077 seats when they wound down their association at the end of last month.

And the actual number and value of the premium ticket sales is far lower, our investigation reveals.

Some 939 of the 4,077 Vantage seats have been allocated to existing 10-year ticket holders, many of whom are from financial institutions who haven't paid a cent since the Vantage Club project was launched in 2008. They will not decide whether or not to renew their tickets until 2014 or 2016.

Orders

The figure of 4,077 seats also contains scores of cancelled orders that remain in the system. These include people who were sent out direct-debit forms more than a year ago and have chosen not to return them and clients and fans who informed the ticket sales team they would not be making further payments.

The extent of the poor ticket sales has raised serious questions over decisions taken by the Abbotstown hierarchy.

At the beginning of the project, ISG were prepared to pay the FAI €75m for all of the premium seats and bear the risk if sales were poor. The FAI believed it could earn more by remaining the backbone of the operation and paying ISG commission.

Last night, an FAI spokesman denied it turned down an offer for all of the seats. But in May, then FAI president David Blood stated the board had made the decision to press ahead with their own business plan, rather than accept an offer from a third party. Now the association, which has taken control of the sales from ISG, must manage the huge debt.

Ireland played their first competitive match at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, with thousands of empty seats in the venue for the Euro 2012 qualifier with Andorra. Last month, they failed to sell out a glamour friendly with Argentina.

ISG struggled to sell the tickets because of the exorbitant prices, which ranged from €12,000 to €32,000 depending on the quality of view, to cover all soccer international games over the next decade.

The IRFU, who were partners with the FAI and the Government in funding the Lansdowne revamp, had sold all their premium seats at a flat price of €15,000 before the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

Many of those who bought the FAI's tickets have also secured them at significantly discounted prices, with a common reduction of 33pc for the cheapest seats.

At the FAI's recent AGM in Wexford, Mr Delaney, who is paid €430,000 a year :shock: by the association and was recently awarded a new contract, insisted 6,300 of the premium seats had been allocated, including 'sponsorship commitments'.

Yet he failed to reveal how many had actually been sold, either at discount or full price.

The Irish Independent sent a list of questions to the FAI yesterday with respect to the sale of Vantage Club seats.

In response to our queries, FAI communications director Peter Sherrard would only reply: "All of these questions were asked at the AGM and were answered by John Delaney in your presence. We do not have anything to add."

The Irish Independent understands the FAI has agreed a deal with 3 Mobile, the new shirt sponsors, which will see the telecommunications company taking up to 2,000 of the premium-level seats.

But it is not clear if the FAI will receive any extra profit from that arrangement. Mr Delaney has said the FAI's four-year deal with the mobile company is worth €7.5m to the association. A 3 spokesman would only confirm that "ticketing and supporter initiatives" were part of the sponsorship.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news ... 31014.html
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby Donny B. » September 9th, 2010, 10:21 pm

Bunch of gobshites. Those tickets were never going to sell at those insane prices.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby kermischocolate » September 9th, 2010, 10:29 pm

I don't have words for how much of a complete t**t Delaney is :evil: .

No wonder the FAI and football in Ireland is the state it is when he's in charge :roll:
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby ronk » September 9th, 2010, 11:44 pm

I suppose they should have taken the €75m, but got greedy. It was still an outstanding deal, but that was the general environment in this country, they must have figures they could have done a fair bit better.

The sale itself seems to have been somewhat mismanaged, but it's easy to be too harsh. They had little chance in the economic meltdown and can't have been expected to be on top of that. Soccer was going through a very rough patch on the field while rugby was doing the exact opposite. They saved money (because funds were tight) by hiring Staunton at the worst possible time. That he would bomb so badly was beyond all expectation, leaving a divided team in need of rebuilding and angry, disillusioned fans with less appetite for filling a far bigger and more expensive stadium.

The IRFU had experience of 10 year tickets, more importantly, fans did too. They were just waiting for the chance to buy tickets. Differentiating prices to such an extent was a mistake, it put people off the cheaper premium seats on the basis that they must be rubbish and scared off the ones who might have paid more for the best ones.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby Darce » September 10th, 2010, 8:55 am

Word on the street is that all serious offers considered. 5K should get you a ticket like
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby simplythebest » September 13th, 2010, 11:24 am

My understanding is that IRFU got on and sold it's premium seats whereas the FAI decided to hold back, in the hope of getting even more money a year later. They then turned down the offer of money on the table, from ISG, in the hope of raising even more money. Then the world economy imploded. Classic case of greed blinding all to inherent risk.
The deal with mobile operator 3 is extraordinary, if as reported it is true. €7.5m over 4 years and with 2000 seats thrown in. That works out at €937.50 per year per seat (or €3750 per seat in total). It would seem that if you are in a position to buy enough seats, you can get the "Sponsorship" element thrown in for free.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby jezzer » September 13th, 2010, 11:52 am

simplythebest wrote:My understanding is that IRFU got on and sold it's premium seats whereas the FAI decided to hold back, in the hope of getting even more money a year later. They then turned down the offer of money on the table, from ISG, in the hope of raising even more money. Then the world economy imploded. Classic case of greed blinding all to inherent risk.
The deal with mobile operator 3 is extraordinary, if as reported it is true. €7.5m over 4 years and with 2000 seats thrown in. That works out at €937.50 per year per seat (or €3750 per seat in total). It would seem that if you are in a position to buy enough seats, you can get the "Sponsorship" element thrown in for free.


Wow. Or you could look at it as €7.5m for sponsorship and then you have to go and find 2000 people who want to watch the current Irish team play!

The FAI has got to face facts and admit that a Celtic League-style format with "superteams" from here, NI and Scotland (maybe Wales) is the only way forward. Never happen with all the politics involved, but soccer here is screwed otherwise.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby eternally_optimistic » September 18th, 2010, 2:50 pm

I agree that a Celtic League style format for soccer in this country is the only way forward.To be fair to the FAI,I'd say they would be pretty open to such a scheme.My only worry would be that people involved in the League of Ireland would trash the idea before it got off the ground.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby sLiM Dedalus » September 18th, 2010, 8:13 pm

As a season ticket holder at League of Ireland and Leinster Rugby I despair of the organisation of soccer at club and national level.

While there is some validity for the concept of a 'celtic league' type format, to do this at the expense of national leagues would be financial suicide. UEFA money does flow into the clubs from qualification spots. To disband the national leagues would wipe out European places across the leagues and sever steady income and potential big pay days (eg Rovers and Juve). Also, the idea of merging clubs is a non runner for a variety of valid reasons.

An All Ireland league is a must for domestic soccer. Soccer in Ireland is basically an east coast game with pockets of participation in cities and larger (i.e. former garrison) towns. That Dublin and Belfast clubs do not play in the same league is madness and completely unsustainable - the FAI can try to deny this all they like.

The (All Ireland) Setanta Cup is one of the most enjoyable tournaments to follow as a fan - the roadtrips up to clubs like Linfield and Glentoran, the return legs and the interaction between the fans has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had following domestic soccer. It is a non acredited tournament though and carries no weight with UEFA. The players seem to love the competition, they are the highest level of soccer players playing in either city and like good atheletes they just want to test themsleves. If the Setanta Cup could comprise clubs from Ireland, Wales and possible Scotland or league 1/ 2 clubs in England it could be a great money spinning/ event focused competition.

Domestic soccer in Ireland just has to find its mission, really. There is the potential for a community based (and this is crucial) structure, a series of 10,000 seated stadiums with acceptable facilities and an education and training ethos that will prevent talented 15 year olds being shipped off to England.

The areas in Dublin where soccer is the main sport tend to be blighted by a range of social and economic problems. This isn't snobbery on my part, I come from one. Unlike GAA or Rugby though, there are no positive examples of sporting role models living locally to visit schools, local clubs etc etc. This is the main reason where the FAI (or soccer in general) are failing in the social mission which the IRFU or GAA put at the core of their ethos.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby ronk » September 18th, 2010, 10:43 pm

sLiM Dedalus, I would see most of your post as an argument FOR a soccer Magner's League despite your different conclusion.

There are only 10 teams and they have to play each other 4 times to get a full season in. All Ireland competition would be a huge boost to both sides, but further expansion might make a huge, huge difference. There's a struggle to maintain 10 clubs, there might be less if that many weren't needed to fulfil the fixtures list. A regionalised system might be more successful, look how it's worked with provinces.

Even the SPL has 12 clubs.

Taking ideas from rugby, like double-headers for the 4 Dublin clubs in Lansdowne Road, might make a huge difference and encourage more fans out.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby eternally_optimistic » September 19th, 2010, 12:52 pm

I don't really see how an All Ireland League of say 10 teams would bring things on that much.It may improve marginally the state of domestic club football but ultimately may end up being a weak competition which provides poor preparation for European competition.What good would it do for the champions to win the league by 18 points and then go into the European Cup and get hammered ?

I don't agree with the community based structure that you have proposed.Far better to organise a regional professional team system based in all the major urban areas,ie the places which can sustain a strong professional team longterm.You could have two teams in Dublin with one apiece in Cork,Limerick,Galway & Waterford.Northern Ireland could contribute between 3-4 teams to the soccer Celtic Lge.

The main reason I would like to see such a league system get off the ground is because I want to see Irish clubs aspire to something good and that would be very difficult to achieve within our own borders.Scotland have plenty of well established clubs but probably not enough to be truly competitive so Ireland can make up the shortfall.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby sLiM Dedalus » September 19th, 2010, 1:12 pm

In theory ronk but the political economics of soccer are so unequal in comparison to rugby that a regionalised, magners-type tournament would never be allowed to take root or succeed. If such a tournament could be engineered with regionalised super clubs (Dublin/ Cork etc etc) it would present a significant treath to a steam of premiership revenue. It would simply not be allowed to happen.

The Premier League is basically the least 'sporting' sports competition imaginable. Its all economics, spread sheets and wages. The rest is all just media fluff to keep people watching 90 minute advertisements for banks, sporting goods and international airlines. They have so many controls at their disposal to disrupt any attempt to challenge their monopoly.

Take the championship for example - a market opened up in England over the past few years for affordable, attendance based competitive football. Any one of 10 clubs could win that league and there was opportunity for real sporting endeavour - the economics were more equal so playing squads reflected this. What did the Premiership do? Increased all the parachute payments to relegated clubs from last year to basically destroy the championships marketing campaign and create a two tiered competition with its own in built 'top 4' which will take hold within a few seasons. Only an example of how they can control.

Maybe a Magners type tournament could be developed somewhere down the line, but there are so many more concerns which need to be addressed immediately. There is a complete disconnect between local soccer and LoI clubs - Premiership clubs recruit players at the age of 12 from feeder clubs. Its third world and shouldn't be happening in Ireland. Its not unusual for players to return home at 17 as failures in their communities with no education and little prospect of employment. Before soccer in Ireland tries to develop a media-friendly, event based product for casual supporters it needs to reestablish the community and education links that rugby and gaa have developed.

My own background is primarily gaa, this is the sport I've played since childhood, but soccer would have been important where I grew up. Its just so important that these clubs can have local role models that aren't only on the tele in the pub. A Magners type tournament wouldn't really address this.

Double headers would be a great idea - the FAI Cup semi finals are shaping up nicely. Bohs, Rovers, St Pats and Sligo are in the hat.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby ronk » September 20th, 2010, 7:34 pm

I think there are options for soccer, but nothing really is worth considering until the FAI and other stakeholders become a better run outfit. The ticketing situation has robbed the FAI of the potential of starting something bigger.

The Scottish league is wilting and they might be more amenable to change, if there had been seed capitol and energy. The talk of Celtic and Rangers heading to the prem has subsided, certainly there might have been a real push from the SPL if they had jumped ship.

I think a big opportunity was missed in the last 10-15 years to, eh, exploit synergies with rugby. Connacht sharing with Galway United; Cork City sharing with Munster (for a couple of ML games), stuff like that.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby TMC » September 21st, 2010, 1:51 pm

kermischocolate wrote:I don't have words for how much of a complete t**t Delaney is :evil: .

No wonder the FAI and football in Ireland is the state it is when he's in charge :roll:


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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby Broken Wing » September 21st, 2010, 2:13 pm

Would there be FIFA issues with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's international status if the clubs were playing in a combined league?

"Who Stole our Game" is well worth a read for anyone with an interest in the mismanagement of Irish soccer. I think it only covers up to the Genesis report though. Probably time for a revised edition with a chapter on the messing since then.
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby Leinster Exile » September 21st, 2010, 7:01 pm

Broken Wing wrote:Would there be FIFA issues with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's international status if the clubs were playing in a combined league?

"Who Stole our Game" is well worth a read for anyone with an interest in the mismanagement of Irish soccer. I think it only covers up to the Genesis report though. Probably time for a revised edition with a chapter on the messing since then.


I doubt it, there is already a precedent set with the MLS having a canadian team and the a-league having an NZ team. FIFA is usually more peed off with the UK having 4 votes and would prefer joint UK team.

"Who stole are game" is an interesting book if not very well written. Pat graces famous fried chicken League of Ireland was a trip down memory lane. I
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Re: Ticket fiasco leaves soccer association millions in red

Postby IanD » September 23rd, 2010, 10:55 am

Leinster Exile wrote:
Broken Wing wrote:Would there be FIFA issues with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's international status if the clubs were playing in a combined league?

"Who Stole our Game" is well worth a read for anyone with an interest in the mismanagement of Irish soccer. I think it only covers up to the Genesis report though. Probably time for a revised edition with a chapter on the messing since then.


I doubt it, there is already a precedent set with the MLS having a canadian team and the a-league having an NZ team. FIFA is usually more peed off with the UK having 4 votes and would prefer joint UK team.



Also Welsh teams play in the English Leagues. It is the precedent that Celtic and Rangers trot out when they want to join the Premiership.
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