Letter from Edinburgh

The scramble for tickets has been enormous. Countless numbers of people from across the area have been pursuing the hottest dates with the biggest events. The media has been full of it.

I speak not of the clamour for the concerts at Tall Ships, but the Olym­pics. Seb Coe, of Olympic middle-distance running fame, was on break­fast television the other morn­ing apologising to the millions of people who didn’t get anything. Even a seat to watch the first round of handball – a sport I can’t even picture let alone name an athlete who competes in it.

On 5 Live he was questioned about the number of corporate tick­ets available to people who probably don’t care that much about sport but just want to be there for the occasion and to say they were. His answer wasn’t unreasonable – big organisa­tions have put millions into the games and therefore, in return, get an allocation of tickets. It happens every week in the Scottish Football League.

The system for obtaining Olym­pic tickets has certainly been more complicated than going on-line and paying for Take That later this summer. Incidentally I hear that half of Shetland is “Taking That”. Easy Up-Helly-A’ squad for next year.

But on tickets, as the Tall Ships organisers have found, an online first come first served approach works, but very quickly, depending on the popularity of the gig. That was the point that Seb Coe was answering this week. He argued that, had they done that, apart from the near inevitability of the website crashing, they wouldn’t have been able to spread the tickets as widely as they could.

It’s a good guess as to what’s fair­er, but you had to feel for an athletics coach who’s been involved in help­ing school kids compete at county level for years, and wanted to take his kids to any of the track and field events, but who inevitably missed out.

I guess most of us will watch it on the TV. At least that will save the exorbitant cost of accommodation in London during the games. Hotels have apparently been doubling or trebling (or worse) their rates.

The other notable bugbear from callers was Sepp Blatter. No wonder. He apparently gets an all-access VIP pass to the games. In other words a prominent seat at any event at any time and will therefore presumably see Usain Bolt streak to victory in the 100m. As 5 Live’s brilliant pres­enter Nicky Campbell put it: “I hope they put him behind a pillar!”

Blatter leads a notably corrupt organisation, in charge of the world’s most popular sport. A fair-minded and unimpeachably decent Scottish football figure didn’t get the vice-presidency of FIFA some years back because he said that FIFA’s decisions on which country won the World Cup should be open and transparent. Not words associated with world football administration.

I don’t suppose there are tickets going for the next World Cup either.

Tavish Scott MSP


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