SECC’s Trouble With Moles

Although not the kind likely to burrow up through the floor during a performance, for the second time in a year the  is having trouble with moles. 

Industry insiders have known that Ticketmaster had taken over the complex’s ticketing operation since early summer, but a Facebook and Twitter campaign from “SECCMole” and some local media criticism of Ticketmaster’s handling of the Commonwealth Games appear to have had some part in the companies holding off on the announcement until Aug. 21.

“The company at the centre of the Commonwealth Games booking fiasco is in ‘advanced discussions’ about taking over contracts currently operated by Glasgow-based Ticket Soup,” Scotland’s The Herald wrote as far back as May 14.

A day earlier, “Inside The Games” – published by the government’s UK Trade & Investment – had admitted the Commonwealth Games website run by Ticketmaster had “been shut down after a second day of technical failures.”

Ticketmaster was already close to securing the ticketing contract for SECC, which was about to externalize the operation that had previously been handled in-house by its TicketSoup brand.

The official announcement came Aug. 21, with SECC director of live entertainment John Langford telling Pollstar the timing was intended to coincide with “the migration from the previous SECC ticketing supplier to the Ticketmaster solution.

“We appreciate that the arrangement was common knowledge; however, it was nevertheless important for us to highlight that the system is now live”.

@SECCMole has been active on Twitter since at least early May, with its first tweet reading: “This account is to inform the public ALL about the goings on behind the scenes at the SECC in Glasgow. Not as rosy as people think!”

Langford said he had no intention of hunting down the mole “as [British TV personality] Jasper Carrot would suggest,” who said the only way to get rid of a mole is to “blow its bloody head off.”

Langford takes the view that SECCMole is likely one of those who lost a job at TicketSoup.

“We did make some adjustments to the staff structure in our ticketing division and we suspect that the tweets were simply those of an affected individual,” Langford said.

Industry insiders say Ticketmaster came out ahead of AEG’s Axs platform because it has a local Glasgow office, ongoing contracts with top Scottish promoter DF Concerts and some of the country’s other top venues such as the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre. It also had the best economics in terms of a service fee revenue share.

In its June 2013 reporting of an earlier mole at the SECC, The Herald said: “Glasgow councillors are being checked as officials try to find a whistleblower who exposed problems at the city’s showcase new Hydro venue.”

Two elected members of the council and two senior officials had to make their desktops, laptops and mobile phones available for study, as it appeared that negative stories about the venue had been leaked from inside the local authority.

The city council owns more than 90 percent of the SECC and has funded much of the Hydro by buying the exhibition centre’s company’s assets under a complex payback loan deal. Some councillors felt the city wasn’t getting value for money.