(This story was updated to add comments from viagogo)
UK government ministers have decided not to regulate the controversial market in secondary ticket sales, and it will continue to legally resell tickets for big sporting events such as the World Cup and Wimbledon.
UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe suggested last year that the resale of tickets for certain important national sporting events should be banned. But after a three-month consultation, the government has decided to let online resale sites, such as Seatwave and viagogo, regulate themselves.
Even a system of voluntary restraint, by the secondary market, regarding important sports events, has been ruled out. The report decided that:
“The proposed system was described in consultation responses as confusing and unworkable.”
Joe Cohen, CEO and founder of Seatwave, Europe’s leading ticket exchange, welcomed the Government’s decision. He said:
“It is clear to all that a transparent and safe secondary market, such as that offered by Seatwave, is in the interests of fans and the live events and sporting industries. We agree with the government that trading standards in ticketing should be clear and fair like they are in most consumer industries and Seatwave will continue to argue the corner of fans everywhere.”
But the decision is likely to anger some in the music and sporting industries. Jazz Summers, manager of the Verve is one of many who think the secondary market drives up the costs of tickets.He commented:
“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.”
Some sports bodies had hoped for similar protection to that which already regulates the reselling of tickets for football games and the Olympics.
A spokesman for the All England Club, organisers of Wimbledon, said:
“It is deeply disappointing that the Government has turned away a golden opportunity to introduce an effective regulatory solution to the problem of unauthorised secondary ticketing.”
Ed Parkinson, UK director of viagogo, was pleased by the ruling:
“We are delighted that common sense has prevailed in this instance: this is a clear victory for consumers. Legislation would have simply driven the secondary ticketing market underground where consumers would have been subject to fraud. The important thing here is education not legislation: when consumers use a reputable ticket exchange, like viagogo, there is no danger of them being defrauded.”
“By deciding not to legislate, the government has ensured that some of the country’s best sporting events remain accessible to the public. 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,” Parkinson added.