Ticketmaster Strikes Olympic Gold

At a time when the U.K.’s Office Of Fair Trading is reportedly under a deluge of complaints from fans ripped off by rogue Web sites, Ticketmaster has been chosen as the official provider for the 2012 London Olympics.

The July 23 announcement from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) means the U.S.-based ticketing giant – which is going through an uncertain period while various authorities consider its merger with Live Nation – has effectively landed the contract to shift 9 million tickets.

TM says it never comments on the value of its deals, but it’s likely to outstrip the euro 5 million Bremen-based CTS Eventim made when it sold the tickets for the 2006 World Cup soccer finals in Germany.

One issue will be whether bogus ticket lines spring up and rip off fans the way they did for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“I believe the industry’s efforts to self-regulate against the activities of the emerging online black market for event tickets can only be ultimately successful if it is supported by appropriate legislation,” said TM U.K. managing director Chris Edmonds in 2005, after one of what turned out to be a series of meetings between the live industry and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

Company PR manager Jon Wiffen points out that there is “specific legislation” making the sale of fraudulent London 2012 tickets – or in certain cases, the unauthorized sale of tickets – a criminal offense.

The 2012 Games are one of the “crown jewel” events, which the government considers to be of such national importance that it’s prepared to protect them from the touts. Wiffen believes LOCOG will work closely with the police and other public authorities to ensure these laws are enforced.

“When tickets go on sale in 2011, we’ll need a reliable solution and a team of world-class ticketing experts in place, ensuring we manage demand and deliver a first class customer service,” said LOCOG commercial director Chris Townsend.

The landing of such a massive contract comes at a time when the U.S.-based ticketing giant’s future structure may be decided by various antitrust authorities.

“Ticketmaster has a dedicated project team for the Games. They are contracted to provide specific ticketing services and irrespective of any conclusion to the current proposed merger we will supply these,” Wiffen said in response to questions about the timing of the announcement.