Sport Conventions

Recommendation on guidelines for ticket sales (89/1)

The Standing Committee of the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at Football Matches,

Under the terms of Article 9.1.c of the Convention;

Having seen Articles 1 and 3.4.c of the Convention;

Concerned by occasions when the free availability of tickets has contributed to outbreaks of spectator violence;

Aware of the need to institute a closer control of the distribution and sale of tickets for football matches where spectator violence is to be feared;

Wishing to build common guidelines on the basis of the experiences gained by contracting parties and signatory states;

Recommends that the Parties to the Convention consider the formulation and implementation of appropriate measures to give effect to the principles set out in the attached guidelines for ticket sales;

Instructs the Secretary General to transmit this recommendation to the other member states or states party to the European Cultural Convention for information.



When spectator violence is to be feared in association with a match, the organising authorities could consider implementing one, several or all of the following suggestions as appropriate to control the sale of tickets with a view to reducing the possibility of spectator violence.

1. Ensuring that the production of tickets helps the supervision and control of spectators and investigation afterwards of possible sources of trouble. This can be done by:

a. numbering tickets and strictly controlling production and sale to the number agreed at 7 below;

b. colouring tickets so that they correspond to particular sectors of the ground and particular entries;

c. printing a plan of the stadium, with the sectors printed in the appropriate colours, and of its vicinity, onto the back of the ticket as information for visiting spectators and to help segregate groups of rival fans;

d. recording the allocation of each ticket or batch of tickets;

e. envisaging machine readable tickets so that forgeries can be detected and entering spectators more easily controlled;

f. strictly controlling ticket holders at entry points and ensuring they have an appropriate ticket.

2. Envisaging where possible the creation by the organisers or stadium owners of obligations or conditions for the purchase of tickets, which could be applicable also to any subsequent purchase. These conditions would help ensure a better control of the "second-hand" market and could allow organisers or stadium owners to exclude undesirable spectators from future matches. Such obligations or conditions would derive from private law.

3. Football associations, clubs, and other organisers could also envisage creating a licensing system to authorise some persons or agencies to sell tickets with conditions (such as the observance of instructions, or limitations - such as places or times of sale, only to members or subscribers, etc - which the organiser or competent authority might issue from time to time and notify the licensee) that would allow them to withdraw the licence in case of trouble with ticket holders from their allocation.

4. When national football associations act as distributors of tickets for major international events, they should add their own distinguishing mark to their batch of tickets.

5. Restricting the number of tickets which any one individual can purchase.

6. Reducing the number of tickets available to away supporters.

7. Deciding the number of tickets which will be sold for a match (not necessarily the full theoretical capacity of the ground); where advisable, reducing the capacity and the number of tickets sold for each sector by a certain percentage, bearing in mind safety, control and public order factors.

8. Restricting the number of tickets available for purchase in bulk (to be defined bearing in mind the match) by:


i. tour operators or other licensed outlets

ii. supporters' clubs

to correspond with their effective travel capacity, so that unaccounted-for tickets do not circulate;

b. companies and firms buying tickets for commercial entertainment, or sponsors of a club. Companies should be asked to show how they distributed their allocation of tickets, and warned beforehand of any areas where distribution might be undesirable.

9. Not allowing the sale of tickets in a period before a match (12 hours, 24 hours, etc), and certainly not in the period immediately preceding the match (e.g., 4 hours).

10. When particularly large numbers of visiting supporters from several countries are to be anticipated, to introduce a voucher system by which potential spectators apply for the tickets they desire, and after due examination, may later exchange their voucher(s) for the tickets allocated to them.

11. At multi-round events, the organising committee may take over or make arrangements for purchasing unwanted tickets and selling tickets that are wanted, in order to introduce some order into the second hand market and reduce opportunities for the black market.

Guidelines for ticket sales

Explanatory memorandum


1. Experience in the Standing Committee shows that some outbreaks of hooliganism are caused by tickets falling into the hands of "undesirable" spectators. This may be the fault of the organisers (for example, if tickets are sold on the day of a high-risk match), or because of the lack of supervision by third parties, such as tour operators or others, over the distribution of their allocated tickets, so that undesirable spectators obtain their tickets indirectly and without the organisers being able to prevent this. Furthermore, the black market is an ancient and persistent sphere of economic activity which contributes an additional element of unforeseeable chance. There is also a small contribution from forged tickets.

2. The Standing Committee is aware that the laws of contracting parties concerning contract, the rights of the individual purchaser of a ticket, and the relationships between organiser, agent and spectator vary quite considerably. Some measures which are applicable in one country are not possible in another (for instance, the powers of the organiser to forbid entry to a person holding a valid ticket). The plans to introduce membership schemes in some countries may additionally complicate the legal situation.

3. The guidelines draw on the collective experience of the Standing Committee, but it is conscious that they can and will be followed only in so far as it is legally possible in each country. The sharing of experience does not impose an obligation to imitate: but it provides insights into the sources of problems, which may then be tackled in whatever will be the most appropriate fashion.

4. The Standing Committee does not consider that this problem is one which is likely to be solved by (new) legislation: it is in the realm of improved operational supervision and practical management that progress is likely to be made. This raises the question of responsibility, which also varies from country to country: each will assign primary and secondary responsibilities to whichever authority is most appropriate, whether by law or by custom.

5. The guidelines should therefore be interpreted in accordance with Article 1 of the Convention ("The Parties ... undertake, within the limits of their respective constitutional provisions, to take the necessary steps to give effect to the provisions of this Convention.") and Article 3.4 "... sports organisations and clubs, together with, where appropriate, stadium owners and public authorities, in accordance with responsibilities defined in domestic law, take practical measures at and within stadia to prevent or control [spectator] violence and misbehaviour, including: ... c. to ensure [] segregation by strictly controlling the sale of tickets and to take particular precautions immediately preceding the match; ..."