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Former England captain Michael Vaughan has led a chorus of criticism against Lord's after claiming fans are being priced out of attending the first Test of the summer against New Zealand.
With the opening Test of the English summer to get underway at the 'Home of Cricket' on Thursday, thousands of tickets are still up for grabs, with "astronomical prices" combined with cost-of-living pressures at the heart of fans' concerns.
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Tickets for adults start from 50 pounds ($88) and range in price up to 160 pounds ($281), with Vaughan claiming it was 'scandalous' that Lord's could get away with charging the same price as a season ticket for England's domestic competition, the Hundred.
"It drives me bonkers when I read about ticket prices and Lord's has not sold out the first test of the summer," the former England captain told the UK's Telegraph.
"If Lord's is going to continue to charge these astronomical prices then they should be under threat from other grounds who will not charge as much.
"You can't keep saying, 'we are Lord's, we need two test matches a year' and then charge over 150 pounds in the holidays, during the (Queen's Platinum) Jubilee and during a cost-of-living crisis."
Vaughan blamed the administrators for not being "streetwise enough" and said it was time to give back to the fans, especially as they look to return to normal life after the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We are the one country that generally sells out test cricket," he added.
"One of the reasons we are successful at selling test cricket is because people want to watch it.
"So, don't out-price them. Just read the room."
'Embarrassing For The Game' – Ticket Prices Stir Debate As Thousands Seats Reportedly Remain Unsold For Lord's Test https://t.co/NWRrkE8xOv
£110 for a junior ticket? Shame on Lord’s.
— PAU7 J0NE$ (@cathsbruv) May 31, 2022
It’s actually MCC who sets the ticket prices at Lord’s. We need to blame them in this instance. Greedy buggers.
— WG RumblePants (@WG_RumblePants) May 31, 2022
The prices are mad. I used to go every year. I bought season tickets to the Hundred for me and the children rather than go to one day at Lord’s
— James Howlett (@Cropcirclejerk) May 31, 2022
I’m a Middlesex member and love Lord’s, but can’t justify the ticket prices for Test matches. Cheaper to go to Birmingham or Nottingham from where I am (Bedfordshire) and that makes no sense.
It seems odd, but I hope it’s not full, and they adjust future prices accordingly.
— Damian Blow (@damo_blow) May 31, 2022
Days one, two and three at Lord's often sell out in advance but more than 1,000 were still on sale for the opening day, and thousands more for the proceeding days.
Marylebone Cricket Club, owner of Lord’s, admit that sales have been slower than normal but cite the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as a potential explanation.
“With The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee double bank holiday weekend also taking place, we have seen a reduction in our usual expected attendance numbers,” the MCC said.
“However, sales remain strong for the opening two days of the match and across our other international fixtures this year, with our India ODI being sold out.
MCC defends Lord's ticket prices
Despite the widespread backlash from fans, the MCC has defended its controversial ticket pricing.
“Whilst we recognise that the top price tickets available are at a premium price, we believe that across the whole ground, this represents good value to watch top-class international cricket at one of the world’s most iconic sporting venues, with many pricing points available.”
MCC has undertaken significant reorganisation of its ticket pricing for international matches in recent years.
The Cricket Supporters’ Association said in a statement: “Obviously, there are a variety of contributing factors to Lord’s facing empty seats for the first Test match of the international season, but the high price of tickets is undoubtedly one of them.
“In these uncertain times, we’ve been told of many supporters who couldn’t afford the tickets in the first place or were unsure about buying tickets early and are now faced with astronomically high prices.
“The MCC would have known ticket sales were down weeks ago and so could have opened up the ticket sales with a different pricing structure for this particular game. It isn’t rocket science but this could have been a great opportunity to showcase Test cricket to a wider audience at one of the best grounds in the world.”
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