StubHub’s UK Welcome

Secondary ticket service StubHub rolled out its UK operation March 16 and was immediately hit by a verbal swipe from company founder Eric Baker, who left the company in 2004 and created Viagogo.

Baker, who left StubHub in 2004 after a falling out, claimed Viagogo – the ticket resale company he started in 2006 – is better than his original creation.

“Having created StubHub, I can assure you that Viagogo is not simply a copy, but a next-generation improvement,” he said. “Having my former creation come to the UK to be the second major player should be the final nail in the coffin for unreliable ticket touts who sell in car parks, outside pubs, or on unreliable auction sites such as eBay,” he told Financial Times.

“Fans should only buy at sites like Viagogo that offer a guarantee.”

StubHub, which eBay acquired for $310 million in 2007, is entering a crowded and controversial marketplace that already has major players such as Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn, Ticketmaster’s secondary site.

It’s also a marketplace where StubHub’s most profitable business, selling tickets for sporting events, will likely be curtailed by local regulations.

An estimated 75 percent of its U.S. ticket sales are related to sporting events. In the UK, ticket resale for soccer matches is illegal without direct authorization from each team.

Viagogo has already made some inroads by striking deals with Premier League sides such as Chelsea and Aston Villa.

But it’s also locked in a legal battle with the Rugby Football Union, which won a High Court ruling forcing Viagogo to reveal details of the customers who offered England international tickets for sale through its website.

So far, Baker’s firm has resisted and says it will launch a second appeal against the ruling in the summer.

The 2012 Olympics, one of the largest sporting events, is in London this summer.

But StubHub and the others will also be prevented from dealing tickets for the Games.

“Soccer’s the national sport here, and there’s huge interest,” said StubHub UK communications chief Fiona Chow, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Partnership is an area we are looking into.” This suggests the company will look to replicate sports deals it’s made in the U.S.

StubHub partners with about 60 teams in North America, covering professional baseball, basketball and collegiate sports.

“We’d love to be that successful, but it took us 11 years to get to that level in the U.S.,” Chow explained.

She said the UK will be a “test market, given the regulation around it.”

In addition to its website, StubHub will also open ticket-buying and pickup locations in London’s West End and across the UK.