Sfa Ticket Disgrace; Six Football Officials Suspended in New Big Match Fraud Probe

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGNUS GARDHAM

THE fiasco over tickets for the Euro 2000 football playoff against England plunged to new depths last night when six staff at Scottish football's governing body were suspended over alleged irregularities.

They were accused of fraudulently obtaining tickets for themselves and their friends.

The scandal within the Scottish Football Association is the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents that have plagued ticket allocations for the match at Hampden Park on Saturday. MSPs demanded a major independent inquiry into how staff at the organisation's Park Gardens headquarters in Glasgow were able to use inside knowledge for their own benefit.

The SFA employees were sent home on full pay for 'alleged irregularities' over the distribution of tickets on a telephone hotline.

It is believed that SFA staff used an alternative number to get through to the call centre, handling the ticket sale, which was run by Glasgow City Council.

The SFA has now become the third organisation involved in the sale of tickets to be tainted by claims of cheating by full inquiry into this fiasco, and the necessary action taken if any allegations of wrongdoing are proven.'

However, Sports Minister Sam Galbraith said there were no plans for a government inquiry at this stage. He said: 'I will be getting in touch with the SFA and I want to know what went wrong and what they plan to do in the future.' Sixty members of SFA staff each had an automatic entitlement to two tickets. At first the SFA implied 15,000 tickets would be made available to the public.

But it later emerged that 3,000 were destined for school and youth groups while 5,000 were for Hampden debenture Continued from Page One staff. More than 1,500 out of 7,000 tickets available to ordinary fans were snapped up by Glasgow City Council employees, who used internal telephone lines to reach the call centre.

British Telecom is also investigating claims that staff in Glasgow and Inverness used computer systems to bypass the hotline number.

Last night SFA president Jack McGinn, attending a civic dinner in honour of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, said: 'The SFA has begun an investigation into allegations concerning the possible involvement of a small number of staff in irregularities connected to the allocation of tickets through the credit card hotline.

'Six employees were suspended by the chief executive as soon as these allegations came to light. For legal reasons it is clearly not possible to comment further.'' Mr McGinn declined to name the employees or state where the allegations came from. …