Scalping tickets a big deal

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

INNSBRUCK -- It always helps when you can mix business with pleasure.

On the train to Innsbruck, Noel (not his real name) was sitting in the first-class section with the panoramic view. He was looking at the mountains. He was making a sale.

"Two tickets for Spain-Russia, 750 euros," he told his Spanish clients.

The deal was done but they stopped stacking the money at 700 euros.

"Keep piling it on. It cost me 650 to get them," he said.

They throw on another 50 euros.

"These are clients I met at the World Cup in 2006," Noel said later. "They were shut out for Italy-Holland and called me because they didn't want to get shut out for this game."

Noel goes through the rail car, occasionally stopping so someone can input his number in their telephone.

Noel scalps tickets for a living. He has been doing it for 10 years and travels to all the major events from England.

Tickets are a big-time item here. There aren't many available. The stadiums are small with most capacities at about 30,000. When you remove the thousands of tickets that go to sponsors and media, there are only 20,000 to 25,000 tickets available for each match.

"The Dutch could have filled the entire stadium against Italy," Noel said. "This is a big-money tournament because the stadiums are so small."

Noel has connections all over Europe to get tickets. He says the Dutch and Germans are the best customers because they'll pay his price.

He loves Switzerland and it isn't just because of the scenery. There is no law against selling tickets for a profit.

In England, you can scalp tickets for some sporting events but not soccer. If you get caught, you lose the tickets and are banned from football grounds for three years.

"It's the ban that hurts," he said. "The authorities all have our pictures. They know who we are and I really love football." He won't say how much he'll make for a tournament like this, but it will enough for a nice salary for both he and his partner.

He also isn't entirely forthcoming about the previous deal.

"I gave the Spaniards the pair for 700," he said. "It cost me 600 to get them. By the way, do you have any access to tickets?"


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