The British secondary market remains active in the sale of Wimbledon tickets, despite years of study and attempts by UK officials to quash it.
Numerous brokers in Great Britain are reselling tickets to matches at the All England Club event this year, and even British newspaper The Daily Mirror has its own ticketing company involved in reselling tickets from fans who are unable to attend the matches, which are now in the second week.
The Mirror’s Web site details three ways in which Wimbledon fans may access tickets for the matches this year, two of which include the purchase of resold tickets. Buyers can spend long hours in line at the venue to purchase tickets for the day’s events; they may purchase debenture tickets, which includes an all-day Club entrance with lounge access; or they may search for returned tickets sold through the Mirror Tickets Web site.
Viagogo, a top secondary ticketer based in the UK, is currently reselling Wimbledon debenture tickets. Edward Parkinson, director of viagogo UK, told TicketNews that ticket demand remains high for the premier event in tennis. He adds that this year’s matches hold a special appeal for British fans: “Wimbledon is a high-demand event, especially when a British player progresses through the first and second rounds. At viagogo, we have seen that when [British player Andy] Murray wins a Wimbledon match, demand for tickets increases – every time he wins, ticket prices for the men’s final jump higher.”
Considering Murray’s performance through the tournament, Parkinson is unsure just how high prices can go. “Tickets for the men’s final are currently trading at £8,500 but if Murray wins his fourth round match today (June 28) and goes through to the quarter finals, we expect some seats will go for twice this!”
However, Graham Burns, chairman of the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents in the UK, is alarmed by what he sees in the resale market for Wimbledon this year. Burns describes a recent incident in which questionable practices by Trade Brokers, or those who provide tickets to other brokers, combined with higher ticket demand arising from the allure of a new retractable roof over Centre Court, have led to ticket prices spiraling out of control.
“This event will go down in ticketing history as one of the biggest
disasters this century”, Burns told TicketNews. “Genuine brokers are really struggling to fill their orders and there is no sign of a break. It is crippling some of the smaller businesses.”
According to Burns, even some primary ticketing avenues are experiencing turmoil this year. He cites a development in which, for the first time ever, ballots (a kind of lottery for ticket buys where one stakes a place in a virtual queue) are being traded on the market. This trading is driving ballot prices higher than debentures, historically the most expensive tickets.
“As are most genuine brokers, I personally do not know anyone who is supplying tickets to Wimbledon this week who is making any money at it. Sadly… for the forthcoming week, the industry is a victim of itself.”
Of course, as in other countries, the practice of secondary selling itself has come under great scrutiny in Great Britain. In the past four years, the subject of resale has been studied by the country’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the CMS Select Committee on four separate occasions.
The 2007 study, while acknowledging the unscrupulous activities of a number of scalpers, or “touts”, recommended only a voluntary adjustment by sellers and declined to regulate the market.
The government’s most recent study investigated the positives of excluding the secondary market from a number of events with national significance, such as the Wimbledon event and World Cup play. The study’s report, released in February of this year, again failed to recommend market regulation and, even backed off on proposing voluntary measures addressing resale for these national events.