09/07/2018 17:31 BST | Updated 10/07/2018 10:06 BST

BST Hyde Park Website Crashes Minutes After Ballot Opens For England World Cup Semi-Final Tickets

'Been refreshing for 45 minutes! Beyond awful.'

Football fans were left frustrated after the ticket ballot website for the screening of the World Cup semi-final in Hyde Park crashed just minutes after ballots opened.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock and London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Monday that England’s clash with Croatia would be screened at the west London open-air venue on Wednesday evening.

Just 30,000 tickets are available via a ballot that opened at 4pm.

But just minutes after the British Summer Time Hyde Park website started taking registrations, threads of complaints poured in from angry fans unable to enter their details, or unsure if they had registered or not. 

BST Hyde Park acknowledged its website was struggling to deal with demand, posting an update on Twitter shortly after 4.30pm asking people to “please keep trying”.

At about 5pm the website registration window displayed the following message: “Please keep trying if you experience a delay loading the form as we are experiencing high volumes of website traffic.”

The ballot closes at midnight, with tickets allocated via a lottery system on Wednesday. 

BST Hyde Park
The BST Hyde Park website was struggling to cope with the amount of registrations it received with the registration page failing to load

Hancock also announced on Monday that he is in discussions with city leaders in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, London and Birmingham over screening the remaining Three Lions matches on big screens across England.

The initiative comes after shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan and the Mayor of London wrote to the Prime Minister, asking for Number 10 to “pull out all the stops”. 

Meanwhile, England fans are reportedly looking at hiring private jets to in a scramble to get to Moscow for their team’s biggest game in decades, according to one UK-based charter company.

St Albans firm PrivateFly said it had received hundreds of requests for charter jets after England’s 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday afternoon.

With prices for commercial flights soaring, the company said fans were looking to club together to get to the Russian capital and witness England’s first semi-final clash in the competition in 28 years.

It was offering nine-seater jets to Moscow for between £45,000 to £50,000 return, meaning fans could face paying more than £5,000 each.

Larger groups face spending more than £150,000 for a private airliner.

Carol Cork, co-founder and marketing director of PrivateFly, said enquiries had been 20 times higher than usual since England’s penalty shootout win over Colombia last week.

She added: “We’ve had an exceptionally busy weekend, taking hundreds of enquiries, especially since England won on Saturday.

“Lots of demand is coming from groups of fans, who are co-ordinating themselves to share the cost of chartering a private jet, to travel in VIP style for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“One group is made up of colleagues from two different London financial firms coming together; another are family and friends spread out in Leicestershire and the North East, who are flying from Manchester.”

A second charter firm, Elite Sports Travel, said it had also had a spike in interest and taken several bookings.

Meanwhile, travel agent and tour operator association Abta said its members had seen another wave of increased demand.

A spokeswoman said: “Abta Members are reporting yet another surge in demand for travel to Russia after England reached the semi-final.

“For fans looking to travel to Moscow for England’s semi-final, it’s important to remember that there are entry requirements for Russia: if you have a valid ticket to one of the matches and have registered for a Fan ID, you won’t need a visa. If you don’t have a ticket and Fan ID, you will need a visa.

“However, please be aware that The Russian Embassy advised in March 2018 that it takes around 20 business days to process most visa applications.”

The Foreign Office has reminded fans to check its Be On The Ball website before travelling.