Tennis-Murray Wimbledon exit bursts ticket bubble, not attendance

LONDON, July 5 Sat Jul 5, 2014 4:08pm BST

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LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - The ticket bubble of "Murray mania" burst when Andy Murray was knocked out of Wimbledon this year, but the All England Club says attendance at the championships is up and remaining tickets sold through official channels were snapped up in minutes.

Last year when Murray became the first British player to take the Wimbledon title in 77 years, the media was filled with reports of staggering prices being asked for tickets to the men's final. One newspaper said a pair of tickets was advertised for 71,000 pounds ($120,800) on the ticket resale site Viagogo.

In the end the highest price the site recorded for a ticket last year was 7,000 pounds, Oliver Wheeler, head of communications for Viagogo, said on Saturday, noting that tickets may be listed for "crazy prices" but what people will pay is different.

This year the highest priced ticket sold through Viagogo was 2,100 pounds for a seat on Centre Court for the fateful quarter-final match on Wednesday when Murray lost to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, Viagogo said in a press release.

Since then, Wheeler said, "a huge number of tickets have been placed back on the website, put it that way." At the same time, asking prices have come down by 10 percent, he added.

Murray's exit has not hurt attendance at Wimbledon, though, nor has it dented demand for tickets sold through the authorised seller Ticketmaster, Jon Friend of the club's public relations office said.

The last "several hundred" Centre Court seats for the match on Sunday between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic "sold out in two minutes" when they became available through Ticketmaster at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday, Friend said. The top price for those tickets was 148 pounds each.

Attendance at the grounds, even after Murray's exit, has risen in year-on-year comparisons, he said.

Wimbledon had 31,935 visitors on Thursday, an increase of 782 on the previous year and there were 31,618 visitors on Friday, up 534 over 2013.

"I think obviously the demand and interest in Wimbledon remains high despite Murray," he said. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Reporting by Michael Roddy, editing by Clare Lovell)

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