WT20 ticket process makes life hard for overseas fans

The uncertainty over Delhi’s status as a host left the travel plans of fans in limbo © BCCI

Fans travelling from abroad for the World T20 in India have expressed anger and disappointment over the delay in announcing the tournament’s schedule and the ambiguity surrounding the ticketing process. While the fixtures were announced on December 11 – about three months before the event – the first phase of ticket sales, for matches in Bangalore, Chennai, Dharamsala, Kolkata and Mohali, began only on February 24. The second phase of ticket sales, for matches in Mumbai, Delhi and Nagpur, had begun at 12 pm IST on February 26, less than two weeks before the tournament. Tickets for seven “high-priority” games – four India matches, the semi-finals and final – have been put up online through a lottery system, though the results of that process won’t be known for a while yet.

There were sharp reactions from overseas fans on social media; for many, the uncertainty over the fixtures was the starting point of a series of problems. “The fixtures were announced on December 11 but there was no lead in,” Paul Smith, 58, from Weymouth in England, wrote in an email to ESPNcricinfo. “We didn’t know when the fixtures would be announced so right back in September we were checking daily. [For] six months we have had to check if there have been updates or changes, our plans all in limbo.”

For fans like Smith, the lack of clarity in the ticketing process has hampered plans for the semi-finals and finals. “Now we know that tickets are going to be in high demand for the big seven [games], but because we didn’t know what the system was going to be some have booked [flight tickets] to go to semi[finals] and final.

“Obviously we have to get some kind of assurances that we can get to see the games after spending two-three thousand pounds on flights and hotels. But no one can understand why Delhi was chosen when issues [in DDCA] go back months, even years. To put such a large travelling country such as England there [England play two games], and even worse a semi-final was hard to comprehend.”

It wasn’t until February 9 that the decks were cleared for Delhi to host matches in the World T20; the BCCI had earlier given DDCA a deadline of January 31 to get its affairs in order before it was extended to February 8. The organising committee official admitted the uncertainty over Delhi’s status as a host had resulted in “considerable time” being lost, and that it could have been avoided. A top BCCI official had earlier told ESPNcricinfo that matches had to be staged in Delhi because it “is our national capital.”

Shamim Syed, a Pakistani citizen, said his plans to watch the India- Pakistan match in Dharamsala were upset as much by the issues in procuring a visa as the delayed announcement. “Watching a cricket match between India and Pakistan at the most picturesque ground in the world would have been dream come true,” he wrote in an email. “But, with this late availability of tickets even if I applied for the visa, by the time it’s processed the World Cup will be long done and dusted.”

What complicated matters further is that the ICC website’s FAQ guide on the ticketing process initially stated that the lottery system for the high-priority games would not be open to overseas customers and that a portion of tickets would be allocated to them on a first-come, first-serve basis. But, a member of the tournament organising committee admitted it was a mistake on the ICC site, and that fans from overseas could access the lottery system. He also said there was no specific number of tickets allocated for them for the high-priority games.

“The lottery system is open for both Indian and overseas fans,” the official told ESPNcricinfo on Thursday. “The confusion was in the initial one hour. When it was corrected we put out in the [FAQ] PDF also. There was a small mistake in the document ICC put up but that has been corrected and put up. So there is access for everyone, and if the foreign fans have registered they also stand to win the random lottery.”

However, when ESPNcricinfo verified the PDF on the ICC site on February 25 the mistake had not been rectified. When contacted the ICC’s response was that the FAQ on the website “clarifies the sales process.” It was subsequently corrected only on February 26, two days after the sale of tickets had begun. The ICC refused to be drawn into any discussion on the ticketing process, and said it was under the purview of the BCCI.

Chirag Thakkar, a London-based fan, said the registration window for the lottery was too long, and that tickets could have been sold in batches. “Why there is no transparency in terms of number of tickets available for each match under this draw?” he asked. “You can always release tickets in phases: if 5000 tickets are available for a match then release 2000 in phase one of sale, then another 2000 and 1000 in last phase. If this practice was started in November 2015 with the last phase in January 16 then overseas fans and Indian public both would have got a fair chance to buy.

“While BCCI and ICC have policies and code of conduct, isn’t there a policy of ticket timelines for any international event. I have never seen such delays, lack of transparency [and] huge chunk of tickets reserved for sponsors.”

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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