Tickets for the 2023 Rugby World Cup matches could cost as little as €20 if Ireland's bid to host the tournament is successful, Minister for Sport Shane Ross has revealed.
Mr Ross was speaking at an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday morning after the Seanad on Tuesday night passed emergency legislation clearing the way for the IRFU to lodge Ireland’s bid to host the tournament.
The Rugby World Cup bill was necessary to enable the Government to underwrite the tournament fee of €138 million and the cost of staging the tournament, which Mr Ross said would be in the region of €200 million.
Several Senators raised concerns about the bid and the rapid progress of the Bill through the Oireachtas, but none voted against the measure.
Mr Ross said he regretted the legislation was coming so late, but this was because the former Attorney General had revised her legal advice.
He told the committee that “preliminary legal advice” last February from then Attorney General Máire Whelan was that legislation was not likely to be required to allow the Minister for Transport to underwrite the bid.
Further clarifications were sought from the Attorney General in April and in May new advice was issued.
“On the 4th of May legal advice was received from the office of the Attorney Aeneral that express statutory authority was necessary that was the first time we got that. At no stage prior to the receipt of that advice could it be assumed that legislation would be required,” Mr Ross said.
Details of Ireland’s bid were confidential, Mr Ross said, but he was confident that ticket sales would cover the costs and “we’re expecting a surplus from ticket sales” he told the committee.
“Everybody has been asking about ticket price. This is market led, and lets be quite straight about it, it’s meant to make a profit, it’s not intended to run at a loss for anybody. So the ticket prices will be market led but they will be competitively priced.”
However he said projections had been done showing that profits could be achieved with tickets priced at low levels.
“ I’m not going to reveal any detailed figures, it would be wrong to do that, but I can tell you a lot of projections have been done with some of the projections being as low as €20.”
Separately Mr Ross told the committee that he had received the Moran report into the ticket-touting controversy at last year’s Rio Olympics in Brazil, but he had not read it.
He said the report of the inquiry led by Judge Carroll Moran had been forwarded to the Attorney General for legal advice, but, Mr Ross said, he hoped to make a statement in relation to publishing the report in the coming days.
“I sent it on to the Attorney General with the suggestion to ask how it could be published, there are obviously legal implications of what’s in it.”
Mr Ross said he did not want to prejudice legal proceedings in other jurisdictions.
Former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey is on bail, awaiting a court date in Rio to face various charges for what has been termed ambush marketing, theft, tax evasion, money-laundering and criminal association.