Careful With The Crown Jewels

The UK government appears to have given up on the idea of banning ticket resale for events of national importance – the “crown jewels” – because the proposed system is confusing and not practical.

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe hinted last year that the resale of tickets for such events, which would likely have included the 2012 Olympic Games and certain concerts staged for charitable reasons, could be banned.

However, after a three-month consultation, the government has decided to let exchanges such as Seatwave and Viagogo regulate themselves.

“The best way forward is to encourage a strong, self-regulated primary market, but one that recognises the need for a healthy and safe secondary market,” Sutcliffe said.

The report compiled after the consultation period ruled out even a system of voluntary restraint where ticket exchanges would refrain from selling tickets to certain events. The report said the proposed system was described as “confusing and unworkable.”

“This report is a whitewash – a waste of time and money. I do not think it is helpful for the health of the music industry, as it will mean concert-goers are likely to pay more for big name acts and not support the smaller acts of the future,” Jazz Summers, manager of The Verve and a fierce opponent of secondary ticketers, told Financial Times.

The government’s decision has proved more popular with Joe Cohen, founder and chief executive of Seatwave. He said it’s clear that a transparent and safe secondary market, such as that offered by his company, is in the interest of fans and the live events industries.

Ed Parkinson, UK director of Viagogo, said “common sense has prevailed” and the decision is “a clear victory for consumers.

“By deciding not to legislate, the government has ensured that some of the country’s best sporting events remain accessible to the public,” he said. “Without the secondary market, the average fan has very little chance of getting a ticket to an event such as the Wimbledon final, unless of course they are a member of the Royal family.

“Ticket resale has been taking place since the time of the gladiators and it will continue long into the future. By choosing not to legislate, legitimate companies such as Viagogo can continue to regulate the market, keeping it safe, secure and transparent,” he said.