Is it just me?

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Image of the RLWC 2013 Logo

UPDATED: I’m perplexed and somewhat concerned by the below report from the RFL, which appeared on the Sporting Life web site. Chiefly because it smacks of the complacency, inflated sense of optimism and general smoke-blowing that we heard in the build-up to the ill-fated 2000 World Cup.

Organisers happy with ticket sales – Sporting Life website

Some of the claims:

  • We are on target for 500,000 seats sold (claimed in the sub-heading);
  • Sales are approaching six-figures now — “We’re not quite at six figures but we’re not far off.”;
  • We’ve sold over 40,000 tickets for the final —  “sales for the final (are) already topping 40,000.”;
  • The final is expected to sell-out — “…at the rate we’re going with the final, there is a realistic chance of selling out before the tournament begins.”;
  • The opening double-header in Cardiff is expected to sell-out — “Our expectation is a full house in Cardiff”.

Some of the facts:

  • Tickets went on sale on October 26th, 2012 — 162 days ago;
  • The opening game is on October 26th, 2013 — 198 days to go;
  • The target is 500,000 tickets sold;
  • The six-figure milestone is 100,000;
  • The final is at Old Trafford (cap. 75,811);
  • The opening double-header is at the Millennium Stadium (cap. 72,500);
  • The Old Trafford finale accounts for over 40,000 tickets sold.
  • The tournament comprises 28 games in total.

Some of my deductions:

  • 40,000 (40%) of ticket sales so far are for the final, which leaves (a maximum of) 60,000 sold for the remaining 27 games — at around 2,222 per game;
  • As the RFL expect the opening game to also sell-out one must assume that it too accounts for a significant proportion of those remaining 60,000 tickets already sold. Lets say it’s selling half as well as the Old Trafford finale with 20,000 sales;
  • That leaves the remaining 40,000 sold tickets to cover the remaining 26 games at an average of 1538 per game;
  • It’s probable that England’s other (two) group games, plus the two semi-finals, are going to average 5-figure gates. If these equal 40k in total and have sold at half of the rate that the final has (say 25% sold) then that’s another 10,000 sold to date;
  • So that leaves only 30,000 sold tickets to cover the remaining 22 games at 1366 per game;
  • Tickets have so far sold at the rate of around 617 per day (assuming they’ve sold 100K);
  • Tickets will need to sell at 2,212 per day (three times the current rate) to reach 500,000.

You see where I’m going with this. It’s a worrying scenario. And we all know that the Aus and NZ’s four games are likely to pull at least 5k, which uses another 10k of the sold-to-date total, leaving just 20,ooo to cover the other 18 games (1,111 each).

My concern over all this is made worse when I read that “We have never been in pursuit of a title sponsor…“.

As I recall, the only redeeming financial factor from the 2000 World Cup was the sponsorship provided by Lincoln Financial Group; which mitigated the poor returns from the gate-receipts.

Now the first game isn’t until October 26th, so there’s still time for all this to come out sunny-side-up.

But relying on walk-ups was what put the skids under the 2000 RLWC, admittedly torrential rain made things many times worse; but hey, it rains in England in winter.

Let’s hope Premier Sports aren’t televising empty stadia to the nation come November.

Remember though … if all else fails there’s always creative accounting … counting two capacity crowds for the opening double-header ought to help.