England news

Ticket resale site questions ECB touts stance

David Hopps

January 14, 2013

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

The ECB's anti-touting poster ahead of the Ashes, January 9, 2013
Viagogo, the ticket resale site, have been critical of the ECB's Touts Out campaign © ECB
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Viagogo, the leading ticket marketplace, has struck back at the ECB's Touts Out campaign ahead of the Ashes and Champions Trophy contests next summer, arguing that online ticket resale sites are providing a valuable service in promoting capacity crowds and protecting fans from fraud.

The ECB launched a poster campaign last week which vowed to monitor online ticket resale sites and threatened to cancel tickets if they were sold on at more than face value.

But Ed Parkinson, viagogo's head of marketing, claimed that the ECB's campaign had actually made them busier than ever. "We have seen a spike in the number of people searching for cricket tickets," he said. "We would attribute that to the publicity that the ECB has generated. We expect thousands of fans from all over the world to buy their Champions Trophy and Ashes tickets through viagogo."

At a time when many sports and music operations have opted to work with ticket resale sites in the belief that they are minimising the chances of fraud - as well as taking a percentage of the resale price - Parkinson described the ECB's continued hostility as "highly unusual".

Among their portfolio, viagogo works alongside 10 Barclays Premier League teams as well as 10 teams in the German Bundesliga, French Open tennis and were official partners for Madonna's 2012 European tour.

"There has to be somewhere the fans can go to try to get tickets when games are sold out," Parkinson said. "Before the arrival of viagogo, people had to take their chance with buying tickets outside the ground with no guarantees that they were genuine or by using an unsecured site like eBay.

"Fans want a safe place to get tickets. There is a chance to clean up the buying and selling on the streets by working with us. There is a chance to manage the market well. People need to minimise their chances of receiving fraudulent tickets.

"The measures we take are pretty robust. We don't pay out on behalf of the purchaser until people have successfully been to the event so fraudsters know they are wasting their time on sites like ours. We also take credit card details and have financial recourse if things go wrong. It is much easier to commit fraud on the streets.

"We don't set the ticket prices - the seller does. Ultimately, the buyer makes a personal choice about the tickets which are the right price and location for them. But the majority of tickets sold on viagogo are priced very near to or below face value and are often available at the last minute. If people list their tickets for extortionate prices, they rarely sell."

Viagogo contends that the reasons people sell on tickets are many and varied and owe more to changes in personal circumstances then people out to make a quick killing.

"People resell tickets for all manner of reasons. Often for major sports events they have to buy them months in advance and then live moves on and they find they cannot go for all manner of reasons. People fall ill or get invited to weddings or their friends say they can no longer come.

"We are giving them a safe and secure platform in which to sell on their tickets. Our studies suggest that 15 to 20 per cent of tickets will be resold for major sports events. The bigger the event, the bigger the need for a resale service. The alternative to selling those tickets on is an empty seat."

Viagogo is a secondary ticketing partner of ESPN EMEA

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

I'm sure the ECB would have no problems with Viagogo if the sales prices were at face value - but, whatever Viagogo say they usually aren't. Touts rip off fans in order to line their own pockets - capitalism at work; but do we want the game priced out of reach of most fans?

If they don't already ECB should run their own resale site to allow those who find they can't use their tickets to resell them at face value or less.

Posted by Rastus on (January 15, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

Viagogo's argument sounds reasonable. If anyone is ripping the customer off it is the ECB with their extortionate ticket prices.

Posted by tdobbo on (January 15, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

I am assuming if I buy a ticket from the ECB the money goes back into cricket in some form or another, for the good of this great game. If I buy a ticket from reseller of tickets how much of that money goes back into cricket?

Posted by shillingsworth on (January 14, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

@Rastus - If you think the ECB price is extortionate, check Viagogo's. For example, a ticket for the Ashes test at Lord's with a face value of around £80 costs £500 from Viagogo. If anything, the ECB are undercharging.

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 14, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

if more grounds made the facility of taking returned tickets and selling them on for the buyer would help. most if not all will not do that. if they would guarantee a minimum of say 75% of face value returned to original buyer then the 25% could cover a 2nd class stamp and abit of profit for the ground. on the premise that its returned in good time but as most would be bought on the day. i am not in favour of any off these type of sites.its bad enough buying tickets for events were you pay the face value then all sorts of surcharges postage etc.

Posted by Billy_Hubble on (January 14, 2013, 21:24 GMT)

Typical head-in-the-sand stuff from the ECB who show a dire lack of understanding of simple economics.

I suspect I may be in a minority here, but if there is such demand for big match (read "Ashes" tickets, then economics dictates that ECB are selling tickets too cheaply. Increase the price and keep the money in the game rather than resellers' pockets.

Similarly, next time you see empty stands at Durham for a test match v Zimbabwe in May, economics dictates the ECB are selling tickets too cheaply.

ECB must appreciate different matches have vastly different levels of demand.

And looking to clamp down on "touts" shows an extreme naivity on the part of ECB.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (January 14, 2013, 19:54 GMT)

I suspect the number of people selling tickets because work got busy or granny made an unexpected visit etc is very small. By all means give them a chance to recover the face value. If Viagogo facilitate the sale why not take a cut. Anything else is against the T&C's. Simple.

Posted by Yevghenny on (January 14, 2013, 18:50 GMT)

The viagogo bluster is comical. Why would fans need to go looking outside the ground if half the tickets didn't end up on viagogo in the first place???

Posted by shillingsworth on (January 14, 2013, 17:46 GMT)

Lots of bluster from Viagogo but the fact remains that the ECB are acting within the law and they are not. Disappointing that this site carries adverts from Viagogo and thereby facilitates profiteering at the expense of the ECB and those seeking tickets.

Posted by Rastus on (January 14, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

Viagogo's argument sounds reasonable. If anyone is ripping the customer off it is the ECB with their extortionate ticket prices.

Posted by PratUSA on (January 14, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

In USA, stubhub.com is a popular site for resale of tickets and it's official. Many people would sale tickets on unofficial sites like craigslist.com . While I understand and agree that ECB should try to protect black marketing (buying with the intention of selling it at a profit) there is a genuine case of need to be able to sell tickets sometime. For example, I had some super 8 tickets for 2007 world cup and in the end couldn't go. I kept the tickets as souvenir anyway but there was no mechanism to be able to sell those or return and we all noticed empty stadiums during that event. ECB, ICC and the rest need to take a holistic view of it and may be best strategy is to partner with a ticketing site to allow fans to pass on tickets to others at face value at least (or under), with may be a small fee for the website providing the service.

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David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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