While South Africa has been widely praised for its successful hosting of the Indian Premier League, there was concern that counterfeit tickets had caused the Wanderers Stadium in Joburg to be dangerously overcrowded for last night’s final.

Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) officials estimated there were 38 000 packed inside a stadium with a capacity of 31 000.

GCB CEO Alan Kourie said last night they intercepted an “incredible” number of counterfeit tickets.

“We’ve informed the metro police about the tickets we’ve found,” Kourie said, “but we suspect there must have been many more because I have never ever seen the stadium this full. It’s dangerous. On the grass embankment (the family area on the west side of the stadium), they are packed in like sardines; there’s no room to move there at all. Over on the open stand (the east side) it’s just ridiculous.

“In both the Unity Stand and the Centenary Stand, there are people sitting in the aisles and standing behind the seats. We were sold out for the Australia game and it was not as full as this. This is our stadium, we know it intimately. You can tell… how many people are in the stadium at any given time, and we reckon there are more than 35 000 in here, possibly 38 000.”

It is understood the fraudulent tickets were found in the possession of a company contracted to do work for the IPL. Kourie said they would allow the police investigation to follow its course before they decide on a course of action, and did not rule out laying criminal charges.
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The GCB has been at loggerheads with the IPL since Cricket South Africa agreed to host the tournament last month.

At issue have been the rights of suite holders and beer-pouring rights, as well as the price of tickets. Tickets for the final were initially priced at R200 by the IPL. After thousands were sold by the GCB at that price, the IPL then raised the price to R300 without timeously informing the board, which was expected to absorb the difference.

Last night’s final was won by the Deccan Chargers, who beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore thanks to a resolute 53 not out by Herschelle Gibbs.

The Wanderers furore aside, SA would have come out of the IPL with its reputation for putting on world-class events intact. In the space of three months – from the end of April until the beginning of July – SA would have hosted the IPL; the Vodacom Super 14 rugby final; the Confederations Cup soccer; and the rugby tour of the British and Irish Lions.

Yesterday, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said he was considering bringing the Champions League, an eight-team tournament between Twenty20 teams to SA next year.