The Rugby League World Cup boss has doubled down on the decision to keep certain ticket prices 'unaffordable' during difficult times, which has seen crowd numbers reduced throughout the opening games.
UK Crowds for a number of early group games have been disappointing, amid criticism of an inability to access the lowest tier of tickets.
Rugby League fans have taken to social media to blast the ticket prices and claimed some tiers are just unaffordable.
And chief executive Jon Dutton acknowledged on Thursday that hindsight might have yielded a different model to confront the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
However, he also defended the decision.
"We have made some mistakes and we hold our hands up when we make mistakes," said Dutton.
"It we had the opportunity to do this all over again, having gone through the pandemic, would we price stuff differently?
"Yes, but we are now into the cycle, we have customers who bought tickets two years ago and we are comparative at entry level with anything that happens in Super League."
The Rugby League World Cup has received mixed attendances in the opening week.
England's thumping opening win over Samoa drew an attendance of 43,119 at St James' Park, and attracted a peak television audience of two million with a 22 per cent audience share.
The hosts' second Group A game at Bolton on Saturday is heading for a sell-out.
But a disappointing crowd of just over 5,000 was present for New Zealand's opening match against Lebanon at Warrington, and empty seats have been a feature at other venues.
Some fans have complained that sections earmarked for the cheapest seats have been empty despite being declared sold-out.
Fans pointed out that there were plenty of empty seats in Australia's opening match against Fiji.
This can't be correct?
3 adults (incl 1 x 84 yr old) plus 1 child, on the 20m line for @Kangaroos v @scotlandrl Group match..
£196?? Not premium seats, just 20 to 30m line at Coventry standard seats...?
Have a word...dear oh dear pic.twitter.com/go3W36IvYd
— Martyn Clarke (@clarkemartyn1) October 17, 2022
Some viewers claimed tickets were going for as much as 70 pounds ($AUD125) for tickets in the pool stage match.
One fan pointed out that tickets to Australia's next game against Scotland will cost $90 to sit on the 20m line.
Don't know what they were thinking when they set the prices for the tickets in this Rugby League world cup. How is a family with a couple of kids gonna afford go and watch a game when they won't get much change out of £250 it's madness
— Jamie foster (@jamiefoster22) October 18, 2022
Wanted to take my mum to the Australia v Fiji game at Headingley but seats were £70 and no concessions for senior citizens at that price category!! So for 3 of us would be £210 and my mum is 76!!
— Michelle Barraclough 💙 (@Shellb11) October 17, 2022
Empty seats for Australia v Fiji at Headingley, £85 to sit down the side for this one... #RipOffWorldCup
— Dan Craft (@DanCraft94) October 15, 2022
The best game of the rugby World Cup so far, shame the ticket prices are ridiculous could have been some occasion
— Mac 🔴🔶🇬🇧 (@MilligansJr) October 18, 2022
The @RLWC2021 organisers should hang their heads in shame at the massive missed opportunity to stage a successful world cup.
Extortionate ticket prices = embarrassingly low crowds.
NZ v Lebanon at Warrington should be a sell out. Must be 2k there. Abysmal
— Roger Payne (@ParkAve28) October 16, 2022
How can anyone expect big crowds at these games with ticket prices the way they are?! Yes, it’s a World Cup. But we are in a cost of living crisis and you’re talking well over £100 for a family of 4 🤯 absolute madness. They’ve got it massively wrong IMO #RLWC2021
— Siobhan (@shivvybaby87) October 16, 2022
Rugby League World Cup disaster
Ticket prices are not the only gripe at this year's World Cup.
The negative narrative began with an electrical failure that cut short the opening ceremony in Newcastle but Dutton is determined it should not overshadow some exceptional sport, like Tonga's epic group win over Papua New Guinea watched by an impressive 10,000-plus crowd.
"The focus for us is to move forward now," said Dutton of the incident at St James' Park.
"Personally, I was absolutely devastated by what happened.
"My disappointment is that I don't want to take away from what is happening on the field of play.
"This has been many years in the making, and to stand in that stadium and watch that Tonga v PNG game on Tuesday was a personal high moment for me."
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