Thousands of music fans could lose a total of about £1.5 million following the collapse of Ticket Tout, the online secondary market trader that started business only a year ago.
The industry was rife with rumours that the London-based company was just another front for former GetMeTickets boss Michael Rangos, as it was incorporated at Companies House February 13th within days of that company being put into compulsory liquidation by London’s High Court.
The Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) shut the business down because it wasn’t in the public interest for the company to continue trading.
The DTI raided GetMeTickets’ London offices, seized assets and company records and found the company didn’t have sufficient stock to supply all the customers who’d ordered and paid for tickets.
Ticket Tout managing director Caroline Beale categorically denied any connection between the two outfits and sent Pollstar a statement warning that she’d "pursue legally any untrue allegations that portray our company [Ticket Tout Ltd.] in a negative way."
She failed to respond to subsequent e-mails asking more detailed questions on the matter.
Lane Bednash and Mark Reynolds of Valentine & Co, who were appointed joint administrators for Ticket Tout, said they have evidence that Beale is an ex-employee, although not a director, of the Rangos company.
"We’re receiving information and looking at any possible connections, although what we have at the moment is hearsay rather than hard and fast," Bednash explained.
He’s compiling a dossier of information including Pollstar stories written at the time, which he’ll be passing on for the DTI’s perusal.
Whether the companies were connected, Ticket Tout’s collapse – believed to have left about 6,500 music fans with losses averaging £200 each – might be a huge embarrassment to culture secretary Tessa Jowell, who has stubbornly resisted industry pressure to outlaw the secondary market.
Tory opposition MPs have already questioned whether Jowell made the right call, while Bednash believes it’s time something was done about the secondary market.
"I was only appointed as administrator a week ago," he told Pollstar March 13th, "but even in that short time I’d have to say that I’ve never seen a business in so much need of regulation."
U.K. concert promoters including Rob Ballantine (SJM Concerts), Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts) and Stuart Galbraith (Live Nation) are already furious that Jowell spent a year consulting with the industry and then chose to ignore most of what it was telling her.
Minutes before he was due in the Concert Promoters’ Association meeting held at ILMC March 10th, which had the subject high on its agenda, Ballantine told Pollstar he gave up on the idea of the current government helping in the war against touts and he certainly wouldn’t bother taking part in any future consultations.
Ticket Tout’s offices are now closed and all visitors to the company’s tickettout.com Web site are being redirected to insolvencynoticeboard.co.uk.
Rangos and his secondary market ticketing business have twice been investigated by the BBC’s Watchdog program, which was expected to run a new piece on the demise of Ticket Tout on March 14th.
Although there’s been no comment from Jowell’s department, a news brief in the March 14th edition of The Times said the government is already drawing up plans to ban ticketing agencies from selling tickets they don’t actually have or haven’t paid for.
The report quoted a Department of Culture Media and Sport spokesman saying, "We will consider legislation if the current regulations cannot stamp out the practice."