There can't be too many people in the audience of the average Rolling Stones concert who are older than the performers themselves. But it seems that the organisers of this year's Super Bowl, the grand finale of the American Football season, were taking no chances. Having hired the geriatric giants of rock to play live during the half-time interval of the contest at Detroit's Ford Field, the organisers decided to ensure a youthful audience. Some 2,000 fans were offered free tickets to get a close-up view of the gig, with one condition attached: they had to be born after 1961. Needless to say, if the rule had been applied to the band - combined age 246, youngest member 58 - they too would be over the age limit.
But the generation of Rolling Stones fans who grew up with the Sixties band earned a reprieve last night when Star Flow Entertainment, the company recruiting volunteers to form the stageside crowd, lifted the ban on over-45s.
Successful volunteers - who must pass a criminal background check to see the original bad boys of the sex, drugs and rock 'n'roll generation - will be expected to attend up to five Super Bowl rehearsals, each of which could last seven hours, before the big day on 5 February.
"You have to attend rehearsal and be able to stand for long stretches of time," said an NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy.
He claimed the age limit had been imposed because the "job" was regarded as physically challenging in that volunteers will have to enter and exit Ford Field quickly before and after the Stones' performance.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the Super Bowl from a totally unique perspective," he added, pointing out that in return for the privileged access, the crowd will be expected to sing, dance, cheer and enthusiastically perform for the cameras. However, the age stipulation for Super Bowl ticket applicants was enough to anger even the most peace-loving Sixties pop fan and, by yesterday evening, the company had reconsidered its position, calling instead for volunteers who were physically fit.
After hearing from some older fans who wanted to see the show, the NFL said it would accept dancers 18 and older. "We wanted to open it up," said Mr McCarthy.
Groups of 20 or more people have been asked to apply for tickets to the extravaganza by signing up on the Star Flow Entertainment website. The 15-minute performance at the Super Bowl forms part of the group's current world tour, "A Bigger Bang". More than 1.2 million tickets have been sold for the 42 shows in North America, the first leg of the tour, generating income in excess of £94m .
The Super Bowl half-time show, one of the most extravagant moments in American TV, is watched by millions every year and competition for the 2,000 places on the field is fierce.
Two years ago Janet Jackson performed a duet with Justin Timberlake during the game's half-time interval and caused a sensation when she exposed her right breast during a raunchy dance routine. This year organisers are hoping for less titillation and more excitement from the group.
Already many who weren't even around when the Stones shot to fame have signed up and are willing to spend at least 35 hours of their time practising to be fans of a bunch of blokes old enough - in some cases - to be their grandfathers, just for the chance to get a second of international television coverage. Adrian Thomas, spokesman for Help the Aged, said: "The group have shown through their own long-standing success that age is absolutely no barrier to having a good time."