England rugby supporters are facing a costly scramble for World Cup final tickets after the semi-final win against New Zealand sent prices rocketing to up to £12,400 each, 16 times their face value.
Demand for tickets to see England take on South Africa has seen prices soar on resale websites such as Stubhub and Viagogo, despite tournament organisers warning that they will not be accepted.
A pair of Category A tickets were being sold for £25,000 on the secondary ticketing site StubHub on Sunday, compared with their face value of £717 each. The cheapest ticket on offer for the game was £1,501 on the two major resale websites, seven times its original price.
Rugby World Cup organisers have warned that fans with tickets purchased on these unofficial sites would be turned away at the stadium in Yokohama, Japan – but that appears to have had little impact on demand.
The Guardian found dozens of tickets being offered for inflated sums on secondary ticketing sites on Sunday, while thousands of fans have joined Facebook groups dedicated to trading tickets. Some England fans in Japan said they had been quoted “silly sums” by touts masquerading as rugby supporters on social media.
One England supporter, Julie Lewis-Thompson, from West Dartmoor in Devon, said she had saved for almost three years to take her rugby-mad son, Max, 15, on the “trip of a lifetime” but that it was proving impossible to buy a reasonably-priced ticket for the final.
Lewis-Thompson booked flights to Japan earlier this year after securing tickets in the official ballot third-place play-off, due to take place between New Zealand and Wales on Friday. She had tried desperately for tickets from the official World Cup resale site but to no avail, she said.
“You don’t want to do it through the unofficial routes but you kind of feel that’s the only option,” she said from a hostel in Toyama. “You’ve got people who are just looking to make a profit. You do get the feeling that people have just sat on tickets for a long time to then sell to the highest bidder.”
Lewis-Thompson, a project manager at the University of Exeter, said someone had offered her Category B tickets for £2,330 each – four times face value – but that it was “more than my monthly salary”.
The Exeter Chiefs fan said: “There’s some die-hard supporters here who’ve been out here for weeks and weeks and weeks but because it’s the final people are literally just throwing money at this who have probably never stepped in a mainstream supporters’ rugby club. It is tough.”
Another England supporter in Japan, Paula Kanesanathan, showed the Guardian screengrabs of one tout trying to sell £500 Category B tickets for £2,000 to £2,500 each. She said: “On the one hand, I get it and people want to recoup some of their costs from the trip if they are genuine fans that are selling tickets for a premium.
“But it’s clear there are many touts who don’t know the first thing about rugby and a ton of corporate tickets, which mean genuine fans have to stump up or miss out. It will be sad to not be in the stadium to watch England lift the World Cup, but guess we will have to find a good pub instead!”
On Stubhub, Category A tickets were being sold for between £2,452 and £12,484 each (compared to the face value of £717); Category B tickets were £1,747 to £6,007 (face value: £502); Category C from £1,601 to £6,007 (face value: £322), and Category D from £1,501 to £6,007 (face value: £179). On Viagogo, tickets were on sale for between £1,131 and £3,844 on Sunday although a company spokesman said the average ticket was sold for £870 since England’s semi-final win.
Sites like Viagogo and eBay-owned Stubhub do not set the price of tickets on sale, the fans do, and both say they may offer customers a refund if their ticket is rejected. Both companies said their websites enabled fans to sell their tickets to other supporters or recoup some of the cost of their trip if their team had not made the final. “Rather than ‘ripping people off’ this is the market working perfectly,” said Viagogo.
British Airways said there was a 184% surge in interest for flights to Tokyo – which is around 20 miles north-east of the final venue – as England’s passage to the final was sealed on Saturday.