After our initial discussion with Tom at Pro 12, we submitted a further 23 questions for review and response.
The response to our questions reads as follows:
2015 GUINNESS PRO12 FINAL AT KINGSPAN STADIUM, BELFAST
Belfast will be the host city for the 2015 Guinness PRO12 Final on Saturday May 30th 2015 at 6.30pm.
The Final will be played at Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby.
Tickets will go on public sale on Tuesday 3rd February through Ticketmaster and Ulster Rugby.
It is the first time that the Guinness PRO12 has staged a ‘destination final’ providing an opportunity to celebrate the vibrant rugby on show week in week out in the Guinness PRO12.
The Guinness PRO12 Final will be a festival of rugby throughout the whole city and will be supported by title sponsor Guinness.
The Guinness PRO12 Final will be broadcast live on TV by Sky Sports and other broadcast partners to be confirmed once finalists are known e.g. if Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors then on BBC Wales & BBC Alba.
Belfast is an inspiring host city and the new Kingspan Stadium is a state-of-the-art venue for the Guinness PRO12 Final.
In May 2014 the PRO12 Board, representing all 12 Clubs and 4 Unions, requisitioned a strategic review on the ongoing development of the tournament, including the staging of a Destination Final. This ongoing process where all stakeholders, the 12 Clubs and 4 Unions, participated and were continually consulted concluded with a report presented in December.
The Board then considered the report and, given the development of the tournament, all agreed that the time is right this season for a showcase Destination Final and invited offers from all 12 clubs & their cities/regions to host the Final.
The bid was open to all stakeholders and potential partners (e.g. stadium owners) and there was no requirement that a PRO12 club venue be used, given size & logistical items. Tenders involved stadium size, logistical & cost guarantees and the opportunity to be imaginative.
PRO12 Rugby fully recognises that it is a mid-season decision and as such will deny the right for the highest placed team after the Play Offs to propose a suitable home venue. This was fully discussed as part of the process and that it was still the view of our stakeholders that moving to a destination venue was the right thing to do for this season.
One of a number of factors considered was that the changes to the structure of European competitions, with finals on May 1 & 2, meant that the Guinness PRO12 Final would otherwise be played one week after our Play Offs which would make it extremely difficult and more expensive for fans to travel with just a week’s notice. There are now 4 months to go to the Guinness PRO12 Final.
Kingspan Stadium has special access for disabled fans on all four sides of the ground and all disabled requests will be through Ulster Rugby, not Ticketmaster. Similarly group bookings for schools & clubs will also go through firstname.lastname@example.org
Any excess income will be split between PRO12 Rugby and the two finalists as before. Our last 5 sell out Finals were truly memorable rugby spectacles and, building on this success, we look forward to welcoming fans to Belfast for what will be a fantastic rugby weekend.
The top 2 teams in the league section of the PRO12 will still host the Play Offs. That’s team 1 v team 4 and team 2 v team 3 as before. The selection of where the PRO12 Final is to be played has always been a matter for the PRO12 to decide. Clubs could ‘propose’ their own venue but did not have an automatic right to host the Final, as in 2013 when Ulster played in the RDS as Kingspan Stadium was under construction.
An outstanding tender from ‘Team Belfast’ bid won unanimously and the result was recently announced on Monday 26th January. Belfast excelled itself as the host city for our PRO12 season launch in 2013 and their plans for the City in the lead up to and around the Final are very exciting.
PRO12 Rugby is delighted to be able to work with our partners to promote the variety of fantastic international destinations that the Guinness PRO12 has to offer and where fans from all 4 of our countries will enjoy a memorable Final and a great weekend in Belfast.
The aim of moving the Final to a National Stadium in the future is under active consideration.
More ticketing information will be announced early next week. Ulster season ticket holders will have an opportunity to buy a limited number of tickets but a substantial number will be reserved for the two finalists.
S4C in Wales broadcast Sunday games and so would like more Welsh teams to feature. All 12 clubs must play on a Sunday if requested by broadcasters and do so.
The PRO12 Board represents all 12 clubs & 4 Unions & they contract with the broadcasters.
Round 22 on Saturday May 16 is confirmed but not the 6 simultaneous kick off times. The broadcasters will look at the teams in contention for Play Offs/Europe and then decide when Round 21 games are played on the weekend of May 8/9/10.
Further news on the 2015 Guinness PRO12 Final will be continually updated on www.pro12rugby.com and also on @PRO12rugby, the PRO12 Twitter page, and the Pro12 Rugby page on Facebook.
Upon receipt of this response we reviewed all of our questions and it could clearly be seen that many questions had not been answered. The questions we felt had not be answered we resubmitted and have since been responded to as follows:
Who made the final decision? Was this decided by representatives of the 12 teams or did the unions have the final say.
- The Board, representing the 12 clubs, made a consensus unanimous decision
Could a union tender for the final, or was this only open to the 12 teams represented in the Pro 12.
- The 12 PRO12 teams and their cities/councils were invited to bid. The 12 teams could have bid with their Unions or other potential partners/stakeholders (e.g. stadium owners)
By having an 18,000 capacity, are you allowing all teams to tender or penalising those who do not meet the capacity limits.
- Tenders were not contingent on the Final being hosted in a PRO12 Club venue with a 18,000 capacity – so all teams and their cities/councils could have tendered
How is this benefiting to Supporters? What if this was a Glasgow v Ospreys final with no Irish involvement. Would you still expect a sell out and if not, who is financially penalised?
- The Board in deciding the Final venue gave all clubs and supporters 4 months’ notice. A sell out is expected.
You have advised that a limited number of tickets are going on pre-sale to Ulster supporters prior to the public sale. What is that limited number? What safeguards do you have in place for those supporters wishing not to attend? Would Pro12 have a returns policy in place for these tickets, enabling purchased tickets to be sold back at face value? Or do you expect those no longer attending to sell on at face value and not make a profit (a naive view if this is the one being taken)
- As with other similar events, there will be people buying in anticipation that their teams will be involved. There will be a way that bought tickets can be resold legitimately.
What was the set criteria for placing a tender?
- Other than the stadium size and certain logistical & local cost guarantees, bidding teams had the opportunity to be as imaginative as they like
Did the organisations placing a tender have to commit to a financial agreement to hold this. and if so, what was the value?
- There was no minimum guarantee other than the event would have to pay for itself, any profits would then be shared between the PRO12 and the two finalists.
- We have since learnt the amount to be £109,050.00
How was the winner of the tender decided?
- By the PRO12 Board after a recommendation from our PRO12 Commercial Sub-Committee, both of whom have representatives present from our clubs and PRO Rugby Wales.
Why are the tickets going on public sale so early? How can this be of the benefit to the supporters? You now expect thousands of supporters to commit to purchasing tickets, plus pay for flights and hotels on the off chance that they make the final! How is that helping supporters exactly?
- Under the previous system supporters would have been required to book flights, ferries and accommodation with less than a week’s notice. Availability and pricing factors were considered.
Why is this not then being held in a neutral venue. Ulster is not neutral especially if they make the final as a non-top seeded team.
- All finals have been held in neutral stadiums.
Why are only 4,000 out of 18,000 tickets being kept for allocation to the finalists? That is just 11% of available tickets to each finalists supporters base. This is not enough to cover a 1/3 of most supporters in the top 4 at present.
- A minimum of 2,000 per finalist is being kept, a ticket transfer system will apply and experience shows that – with just a week’s notice – that this will be sufficient.
What were the results of the vote? Did anyone abstain from the vote? What were the overwhelming figures for Ulster to win?
- No one abstained – the consensus from all our stakeholders on the Board was that now was the time to make the transition to a destination final, especially given the loss of a week in the turnaround between Play Offs & Final.
Please explain rule 3.7 and why you’ve decided to bypass it this season?
- Rule 3.7 has not been bypassed. The selection of where the Final is played has always been a matter for the PRO12 to decide. Under 3.7 clubs had the right to ‘propose’ their own venue, they did not have an automatic right to host the Final. This is covered further down that page.
We are yet to decide if we will refer back to Pro 12 in relation to some of these replies, if we do, we will of course keep you all informed.