Exclusive - London 2012 CEO Deighton "Relaxed" About Football Ticketing Concerns
June 28, 2012
Deighton at the opening of the Main Press Centre for London 2012 (WFI)
(WFI) London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton tells World Football
INSIDER that he's "relaxed" about the challenging task of shifting 1.2
million tickets for the men's and women's Olympic
football competitions in just four weeks.
Deighton spoke to INSIDER at the Wednesday opening of the Main Press Centre for the Olympics that will accommodate nearly 6,000 journalists and photographers during the Games.
In recent weeks, both Deighton and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe have hit back at suggestions that the huge number of football tickets will not be sold due to some low-key match-ups and large venues.
It's the latest ticketing headache for Olympic organisers following controversy over the ballot scheme and problems with the official website crashing under the weight of extraordinary demand for tickets across all the 26 Olympic sports.
Around seven million tickets have so far been sold for the Olympics; so the remaining football tickets represents a sizeable chunk of the 1.8 million remaining.
Questions about slow football sales leading to half-empty football stadia come Games-time are not going away.
Deighton put on a brave face when pressed if he was worried about the possibility of unfilled venues blighting the football tournament.
"It's customary that many of those tickets get taken up very late on. That's certainly the behaviour of football fans to buy tickets late," he said.
"I’m relaxed about it," he added, "for the very simple reason that we’ve sold more tickets for football than anything else, we’ve just got a lot of matches because of course there’s a men’s and a women’s competition and they’re big venues – there are just a lot of tickets to sell."
The six venues spread across the UK are: St James’ Park, Newcastle; Old Trafford, Manchester; Hampden Park, Glasgow; the City of Coventry Stadium; the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and London's Wembley Stadium.
With or without large crowds, Deighton promised that the football venues would not be lacking in atmosphere.
"I think we’ll have very vibrant noisy venues," he said.
"We’re using our ticketshare scheme where corporate hospitality buyers donate [$31] to buy a ticket for a young person to go to the Games, so we’re channelling some of that towards where there’s capacity in the football matches.
"So I think when we get there we’ll be happy with the outcome."
England football legend David Beckham was expected to be named as one of the three over-age players in the U-23 Team GB men's squad, which would have led to a definite spike in ticket sales.
But The Times today reported that he had been left out of the squad by Team GB football boss Stuart Pearce, who has apparently named Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, Liverpool's Craig Bellamy and Manchester City's Micah Richards as the over-age players.
Beckham told the Associated Press: "Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad.
"Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold."
Earlier this week, the first ever Team GB women's Olympic football squad, managed by Hope Powell, was unveiled. The 18 players include only two non-English players, Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke and Kim Little.
Team GB's women kickstart the program of London Olympics competition when they play New Zealand at the Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on July 25 - two days before the opening ceremony. Team GB's men play their first match on July 26.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER
Get Free WFI news bulletins Click Here
(Copyright 1992 - 2013, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of World Football Insider and Around the Rings, Inc.)