The IRFU have announced the actions to be implemented as a consequence of the recommendations made by a working party, chaired by Union Senior Vice-President, John Hussey, in relation to issues arising from the four-match Guinness Series of matches in November 2010…

Following disappointing ticket sales and the acknowledgment by the IRFU in a statement issued on November 1st, 2010, that an error was made in its ticketing strategy, the Union moved to establish a working party with a view to finding a “fair, equitable and practical solution’’ to deal with the shortfall in revenue arising from tickets not sold by the clubs and branches and also to recommend a new system for the sale and distribution of tickets which would seek to prevent a recurrence of the ticket problems experienced.

On completion of the working party report, the Union engaged the international sports division of Deloitte to undertake an independent review of the working party recommendations and following a special meeting of the Union Committee held today, the IRFU announce that:

• Branches/Clubs will not be asked to pay for tickets that they were unable to sell for the 2010 Guinness Series matches
• A new ticketing distribution and sales system be established.

IRFU Chief Executive, Philip Browne, said: “In endorsing the recommendations of the working party, the Union Committee has taken the decision that it would be both impractical and counterproductive to the IRFU’s core aims to seek payment in respect of unsold tickets from Branches/Clubs. The Union has undertaken to review ticketing pricing and marketing strategy for home international matches on an ongoing basis. The Committee of the Union also agrees that it is imperative that a revised ticketing sales, distribution and payment system be put in place so as to guard against future potential losses relating to ticketing.

“For the IRFU to fulfill its role and obligations to protect and develop Irish rugby in the long term, maximizing attendances should be the first priority in order to protect the Union’s financial strength and in turn its ability to provide financial support to the Irish Rugby family across the board. A new ticketing structure will also provide the Union with clear, up to the minute information about ticket sales within the clubs and enable it, if necessary, to pursue additional ticket sales distribution avenues. On behalf of the Union I would like to thank the efforts of the John Hussey Working Party and Deloitte.”

The revised ticket distribution and sales system will essentially build on the strengths of the current formula. It will be based on the principle of optimising ticket sales through the clubs and branches but will better utilise technology to militate against potential risks around ticketing sales. A new automated online ticketing system for use by clubs is currently under trial to assist the sale and distribution of tickets for the upcoming Guinness Summer Series in August.

The main elements of the new structure going forward are:

• The clubs and branches will continue to be the preferred sales channel for international match tickets.
• Branches will continue to be responsible for the allocation of tickets to clubs and schools.
• Clubs will continue to be responsible for the allocation of tickets to their membership.
• The IRFU will introduce an automated and integrated ticket sales and transaction processing system which will provide a sales function to avail of alternative sales channels when required, along with management information and certainty of payment. This will be similar to the system currently used by a number of Branches for their own matches.
• The IRFU will conduct a detailed review of ticketing pricing and marketing strategy for home international matches on an ongoing basis.
• Tickets will only be distributed once payment has been received by the IRFU.
• For certain matches unsold tickets to be returned by an agreed date to the IRFU to allow adequate time to sell tickets to the general public.
• The IRFU will consider introducing schemes in order to encourage clubs to take up their allocation of tickets.