Ticket resale site questions ECB touts stance
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