WEARSIDE is becoming a vast auction mart – for Cup Final tickets. Starved of soccer honours for so long, fans seem prepared to dig deep for the privilege of seeing the climax to Sunderland’s metamorphosis at Wembley.
Many of the “unlucky” supporters themselves started the “bidding” by offering over the odds for winning vouchers or tickets. Now the market prices are soaring and reports today indicate that the stand tickets were already fetching up to £25 and the cheapest tickets up to £12.
“It’s a paradise for the black marketeers,” said Mr John Rennick, transport officer for Sunderland Supporters Association. “Everybody wants a ticket for Wembley but there are only 20,000 available.
“The touts have got hold of tickets and are selling them in the town. But where these tickets have come from is a mystery to everybody, although I am sure they haven’t come from Roker Park.
“I can’t understand people getting panicky about getting a ticket, but I would advise them not to buy from the touts. These people are cashing in on the loyalty of football fans. There isn’t even any guarantee that the tickets are not counterfeit.”
Mr Tennick said the demand for tickets was “unbelievable” – far greater than in 1937, when Sunderland first won the cup.
“I think it’s about time the club allocation for the final was increased from 20,000 to about 35,000. It might cut out some of this black marketeering.”
In the town’s pubs and clubs everyone has been asking ”Have you got a ticket for sale?” or “Where can I get a ticket?” In the personal columns of the Echo fans have offered to buy tickets “at any price.”
In the shops too, advertisements have appeared in the windows offering high prices. One Southwick shop has a ticket which is to be auctioned to the highest bidder.
Mr Ron Linney, secretary of Sunderland A.F.C., said today it was “shocking and disgusting” that tickets should be sold at enhanced prices. The club was, however, taking names and addresses when selling tickets and if anyone had to pay “over the top” for one they should contact the club who would check the source and make sure that person did not receive a ticket again.
Today was the last day for season ticket holders to have preference and tickets to ballot winners would go on sale tomorrow and the rest of the week.
If there are any unclaimed through ballot vouchers being lost or destroyed – another draw will be made and holders of the winning colour would have to try to get a ticket on a first come, first served basis.
Mr Fred Stratton, a Sunderland coach proprietor, who has ten coaches carrying supporters to Wembley, said he had had many fans asking him if he had been allocated tickets. “But I haven’t got any, and I don’t think any other coach operator has.
“I have heard that people ‘in the know’ can get hold of tickets for sale, and that there is a character in the Gateshead area who is selling tickets – at a price.”
A F.A. official at the Lancaster Gate headquarters, said there was nothing illegal in selling tickets at “enhanced” prices, but the F.A. was trying to crack down on the practice.
“We have now insisted that in all future finals conditions of sale will be printed on the tickets, so that they are not transferable and counterfoils should be retained for at least six months.”
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 16 1973.