Ticket Fiasco

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THE PHENOMENAL demand for ticket sales for Paul McCloskey’s world title battle with Amir Khan is at the root of the latest dispute between the two camps, with the Dungiven man’s team threatening legal action over their allocation of tickets.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The first batch of tickets for ‘Dudey’s’ April 16th showdown at the MEN Arena in Manchester went on general sale on Tuesday and, incredibly, 9,000 were snapped up within 24 hours of their release.

However, frustrations within the McCloskey camp are growing as they continue to battle with ‘Team Khan’ over their ticket allocation and distribution.

Given that McCloskey’s commission on ticket sales was a key factor in the negotiations for the fight, this latest row could jeopardise their purse and, therefore, they plan to apply pressure on Khan’s team in the hope that they will receive the 5,000 tickets they had initially negotiated as soon as possible.

The Co. Derry man’s manager, Mr. Francie McNicholl. believes that ‘Team Khan’ are doing everything in their power to frustrate and limit the sales in Ireland and the slow supply on tickets are a deliberate attempt to hold back sales to Irish fans, he claimed.

Adding significant weight to that argument is a post on Khan’s social networking site, Twitter yesterday which stated: “Tickets are flying out quick. And the majority are selling quick in Ireland. So come on England get them before they sell out!”

Khan’s team have total control over the allocation of tickets and insist they will release only 750 at a time to McCloskey’s representatives. Until they have received all monies generated from those tickets sales, they have refused to release any more of McCloskey’s quota and that has now become a serious concern for local fans.

It’s understood that almost £50,000 in ticket sales from the initial batch allocated to McCloskey was transferred to Team Khan’s account but, as of yesterday afternoon ,they had still refused to send the second batch.

Astonishingly, Mr McNicholl also revealed that, given the demand from the Irish public, he was willing to put forward his own money to pay for the ticket allocation in the meantime just to ensure the local camp received their full quota of tickets.

Mr. McNicholl believes Khan’s representatives are being ‘totally unreasonable’ and added that there may be legal implications because of the conduct of Team Khan which has forced Mr. McNichill to seek legal advice on how to deal with this latest dispute.

“We’ve transferred almost £50,000 to their bank for the first batch of tickets and I was told by Matchroom’s Director of Boxing, John Wischhusen, that in nearly 22 years in the business - and having been involved in over 532 boxing promotions - he’s never seen so many tickets sold in the first 24 hours,” revealed McNicholl.

“The demand for tickets has been phenomenal. We’re getting calls and interest on the internet and on Paul’s website from people keen to get tickets.

“But as was the case in the negotiations, Khan’s team are being awkward to work with, they’re only releasing a small amount of tickets at a time. We have to receive the payment for the tickets up front, put the money in the bank and transfer it to their account before they will release another batch of tickets.

“They are worried that our tickets are selling quicker than theirs and they’re buying time in the hope of getting as many tickets sold as they can. It’s a deliberate attempt to hold us back.

“They’re trying to frustrate us because they’re concerned about the uptake of interest for tickets from Ireland and from supporters of Irish decent in England.

“They are giving us 750 tickets per block at a time. It’s totally unreasonable. We only requested a total consignment of 5,000 tickets but with the demand for tickets we would like more than that.”

The MEN Arena has a maximum capacity of 23,000, and the lower tier of the venue can accommodate a crowd of around 12,000 people. Tickets for the upper tier will only go on sale once the lower section has sold out but McNicholl believes the fight could generate enough interest to sell the venue out.

“We have the demand for tickets and they’ve given us their assurances that we will get what we require. I’m quite confident we will sell the 5,000 tickets we’ve been allocated and if this amount of interest keeps up then we won’t have any tickets left to sell that’s for sure.”

Despite the ongoing problems with ticket allocation, Mr McNicholl is confident that he will receive their full total eventually and is hopeful tickets will become available today from a number of local outlets.

“Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster but supporters can get them through ourselves at Eurospar, Dungiven when they become available at face value. We’re selling tickets so the Irish fans can sit together in block format.

“Michael Faulkner who owns a chain of Euroxchanger outlets will be selling tickets at the Euroxchanger at Garden City, at Bridgend, in Letterkenny and in Castlecourt, Belfast. You can also get tickets on Paul’s website www.paulmccloskey.com but there will be a small charge because it’s through Pay Pal account.

“For the cheapest tickets and to ensure supporters are sitting with the Irish support, I would recommend people go through those channels. I’m expecting the next batch of tickets today (Thursday) by courier. So hopefully they will be available for purchase today but certainly tomorrow.”