Reports are surfacing this morning that Saracens are fearing the worst when it comes to ticket sales for their Heineken Cup semi-final against French giants Toulon on Sunday. With ticket sales so far believed to have only just surpassed the 20,000 mark for the 82,000 capacity Twickenham Stadium, Sarries Chief Executive Richard Griffiths is left worried about the wider implications for the game. He goes on “it is not ideal for the sport where you have a big game involving two big clubs in a stadium where there are gaps”.
Sarries would have preferred to have played the game at Wembley where they have never yet failed to attract a crowd of less than 40,000 people. Griffiths continues “do I think that there is something inherently wrong with a competition for clubs being run by unions? Probable. The Champions League in football is not run by the FA and other national federations. It would be interesting to see what it would look like if it were.”
Griffiths clearly has a point with the ERC setting the minimum price for tickets at £35 it’s no wonder even Saracens top class marketing team is struggling to put bums on seats. Given Saracens and Harelquins recent ability to fill Twickenham and Wembley for some of the big London derby’s in recent seasons it is no wonder the club are frustrated at having their hands tied over ticketing.
There is no doubt that Saracens versus Toulon is the Heineken Cup semi-final is one of the biggest games of the season and a great advert for rugby. However, images on Twickenham not even half full will paint a poor picture of the games top club tournament, especially when contrasted with the 71,000 plus tickets so far sold for the annual Army vs. Navy game held at the stadium the previous day.
The ERC desperately need to look into this and find a compromise before next seasons competition or once again we will be faced with yet another farce caused by the games governing bodies.